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Crusaders skate past North Hills, 10-5

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:56 p.m.
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Matthew Bilski had three assists againt North Hills last week. File photo.

The month of December ended on a sour note for the Bishop Canevin hockey team.

In their final PIHL game of 2012, the Crusaders suffered their first loss as they fell to Moon, 5-3.

Bishop Canevin then finished 2012 at the Pennsylvania Scholastic Showcase held at Bladerunners in Harmarville. The Crusaders lost to Cumberland Valley, 5-2, and Bethel Park, 6-1, before defeating Penn Trafford, 5-2.

“Cumberland Valley is from the Central Penn League and not very good,” Bishop Canevin coach Kevin Zielmanski said. “We were not prepared. We weren't ready to go on the ice when they were blowing the horn. It was disastrous. Then we had only 12 skaters against Bethel Park, which didn't give us much of a chance.

“We then played a good game against Penn Trafford. The final five periods were pretty good. The first four were not.”

The Crusaders rebounded in their first game of 2013 as they defeated North Hills, 10-5, last week.

Bishop Canevin fell behind early as Jeremy Warhold sent the puck past Ryan Tucker from the left circle to put the Indians up, 1-0. The Crusaders responded 17 seconds later as Alec Bosnic collected a loose puck off a block by North Hills goalie Alexander Washy and sent it into the net. Austin Large put Bishop Canevin ahead late in the period as he sent the puck over Washy's shoulder to put the home team up, 2-1.

Patrick Large extended the lead to two goals 17 seconds into the second period after he collected a pass from Christopher Reda and sent the puck over the goalie's shoulder for the goal. But the Indians came roaring back and less than a minute later tied the score at 3.

“We got the two-goal lead, and I think the team took a deep breath but they were on us,” Zielmanski said. “We made a couple of mistakes, and they have a couple of skilled forwards. They made some good plays.

“I was about to turn to my assistant when the score was 3-1 and say, ‘It is nice to have a breather.' But I didn't, and a minute later it was tied.”

The rest of the second period was controlled by the Crusaders as they outscored North Hills, 4-1.

Bosnic got things going on a breakaway as he sent the puck in from 15 feet to put Bishop Canevin ahead by one. Reda, Blaine Adams and Garrett Godlewski contributed goals — two of which came on power plays — to put the Crusaders up, 7-4, heading into the period.

Austin Large he scored on a power-play opportunity 17 seconds into the final frame to extend the lead to four. Patrick Large and Ross Langford each scored in the third period to hold on for the win.

Patrick Large led Bishop Canevin with two goals and two assists.

Ryan Tucker finished the game with 18 saves and improved his season record to 3-0-1. While he has shown the ability to perform well in front of the net, there was concern heading into the North Hills game.

Tucker had injured his thumb in off-the-ice activities, and the team's other goaltender, Nikita Meskin, was out of town. Despite having the hand heavily bandaged, he did enough to help the Crusaders win.

“He had to be in goal regardless of what happened,” Zielmanski said. “I think he would say he could have done better. He was OK when he needed to be.”

The Crusaders face West Allegheny on Monday before they take an eight-day break for midterms. They then return to the ice to face their toughest streak of games this season, including Cathedral Prep, Moon, North Hills and Chartiers Valley.

Zielmanski said the schedule will be tough, and all five of the games are rematches of contests earlier this season. Bishop Canevin made it through the stretch of games with a 3-1-1 the first time around, but its coach thinks things will be more challenging the second time.

“It will be a good opportunity to assess where this team falls,” Zielmanski said. “These are pivotal games. Last season we saw North Hills twice, and they were much better the second time around. And we always split the series with Chartiers Valley. It will be a good stretch of games.”

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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