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Bishop Canevin hockey team reaches 500 wins

| Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 8:55 p.m.
Signal Item
Blaine Adams, right, and the Bishop Canevin hockey team defeated Pine-Richland and Plum in the opening week of the WPIAL season. Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item
Signal Item
Jason Bilski and the Bishop Canevin hockey team recorded the 500th win in program history with a 7-0 victory over Plum last week. Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item
Signal Item
Brennan Adams and the Bishop Canevin defense looks to remain strong after holding its first two opponents to one goal. Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item

The history of the Bishop Canevin hockey team is one of the most storied in the PIHL. In its 40-year existence, the team has made the postseason 32 times and won 18 section titles. The Crusaders won Penguins Cups in 1983, 1984, 1985, 1989, 1993 and 2011. Four of those seasons also included state titles.

The Crusaders added another chapter last week.

The Crusaders' 7-0 win over Plum – along with a 2-1 season-opening victory over Pine-Richland – was the 500th win in program history. Only five other teams have reached that mark – Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon, Bethel Park, Central Catholic and Kittanning.

“If you are going to do this as a coach and put in all this time, you want to do it somewhere where they care about the sports,” said Bishop Canevin coach Kevin Zielmanski, who has 89 wins during his six seasons with the team. “500 wins is a testament to all the people that have been involved in the program. People have cared enough about the program for it to have success.

“It is nice to be a small part of it. Its nice for people around here who have been around much longer than me and for Bishop Canevin being such a small school.”

It didn't take Bishop Canevin long to find the net against the Mustangs as Austin Large scored 46 seconds into the game. The Crusaders added to the lead with an unassisted goal by Jason Bilski and a second goal from Large.

Bishop Canevin capped the first period with a short-handed goal by Patrick Large.

The Crusaders piled on in the second and third period with Christopher Reda finding the net in addition to power-play goals from Ross Langford and Patrick Large.

Junior Nikita Meskin has helped the team reach the 2-0 start with strong play in the net. He has given up one goal compared to 44 saves after returning from a medical setback during the offseason.

“He told someone on my staff he was about 85 percent a week before the season started,” Zielmanski said. “I let him know he was going to start Monday and our other goalie (Ryan Tucker) is away so he had to play (against Plum). He had two great games.

“If he is not 100 percent, he's pretty close to it. I'll take that percentage.”

Bishop Canevin has been spurred by the offensive play of twin brothers Austin and Patrick Large. The seniors lead the team in points – Austin with seven and Patrick with five – as part of a strong first line with Reda.

“I knew they had some offensive abilities,” Zielmanski said. “They have really developed a tremendous shot. They are not the quickest kids and they know that. But they are able to control the puck and move to open spaces.

“Those two with Chris Reda have really set the tone.”

An area of concern the Crusaders are working on is penalties, especially early in the game. Bishop Canevin had a five penalties in the first period against Plum but only had three the rest of the game.

“It is just playing sloppy and sometimes lazy,” Zielmanski said. “It is something we have discussed. We have to stay out of the box. It hurt us in the (St. Margaret's Fall Face-Off tournament) and we gave up a ton of power-play goals.

“It is something we are trying to remind them they need to be better in.”

The Crusaders return to the ice tonight, Thursday, as they travel to West Allegheny. The puck drops at 8:30 p.m.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at nsmith@tribweb.com or 412-388-5813.

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