Bishop Canevin hockey team shuts out rival Chartiers Valley
Bishop Canevin hockey coach Kevin Zielmanski had several words to describe how goalie Nikita Meskin performed against Chartiers Valley last week: great, excellent, outstanding.
“Basically any other superlative you can toss in there,” Zielmanski said.
The praise is much deserved as the junior held the Colts scoreless, and the Crusaders skated away with a 4-0 win. Meskin made 30 saves against Chartiers Valley — the first time the high-scoring Colts finished without a goal this season.
Meskin — who has a .922 save percentage this season — knew coming in what to expect. Earlier this season, Chartiers Valley jumped ahead, 4-0, over Bishop Canevin thanks in part to Class AA point-leaders Anthony Franks and Cullen McMahon. But the Crusaders rallied for a 6-5 win.
“We play them twice, and the last two years we normally win the first game and lose the second,” Meskin said. “The priority was to win anyway possible.”
The teams battled to a scoreless first period, but Bishop Canevin had one clear advantage: penalties. The Crusaders saw no time in the box in the first frame of the game, but the Colts had 16 penalty minutes.
A penalty led to the first Bishop Canevin goal as Chad Lounder collected a rebound and sent it into the net midway through the second period. Just two minutes later, Blaine Adams scored from the right circle to give Bishop Canevin a 2-0 lead.
“When Bishop Canevin scored first, my players looked like deer in headlights,” Chartiers Valley coach Sean Biancaniello said. “I expected to face adversity, and I'm not real happy with how we responded. But you have to give Bishop Canevin credit. We got beat by a better team tonight. This is our fourth loss but the first where I felt we didn't beat ourselves.”
Facing a two two-goal deficit heading into the third period, Biancaniello said his staff tried to create a spark and cut down predictability by breaking up McMahon and Frank. But Bishop Canevin had answers for any adjustment they made.
The Crusaders extended the lead to three goals early in the final frame as Brennan Adams found the net off an assist from Blaine Adams. With just more than two minutes left in the game, Bishop Canevin took a penalty and Chartiers Valley pulled goalie Noah Stevenson to get a 6-on-4 advantage.
But the numbers edge proved to be futile as Brennan Adams sent the puck across the ice into the empty net for the short-handed, unassisted goal.
“I told the team I wanted two things in the third period: I wanted them to be composed and to be smart with the puck,” Zielmanski said. “My assistant said how (Chartiers Valley) was probably in their locker room telling their team how we came back from 4-0 last game. We knew they had a couple guys who could lead a comeback.”
The win — along with a 5-1 win over Cathedral Prep later in the week — pushed Bishop Canevin's record to 13-1-2.
The Crusaders have three games remaining on the schedule — against Gateway and Kiski before a big road trip to Latrobe to battle the top team in Class AA.
While Zielmanski is pleased with his squad's seven-game win streak, he wondered out loud if the streak could end up being counterproductive.
“You never want to lose a game but have to wonder if taking a long stretch into the playoffs is a bad thing,” Zielmanski said. “We need to just go out and try to win each game.”
The loss dropped the Colts to 12-4-1. While the game seemingly gave the Crusaders the Section 2-AA title, Biancaniello was adamant that Chartiers Valley still has a lot to fight for.
With only two games remaining this season — a showdown tonight, Thursday, against Cathedral Prep and a road game against Plum on Monday — the Colts will look to end the season on a winning streak to help their playoff seeding.
“You have to have a short-term memory when you play hockey,” Biancaniello said. “I told the boys that we need to go back to work and prepare for the Cathedral Prep game. We still have a lot to battle for, and the season is far from over. There is still a championship to be won. This isn't the end of our season.
“We need to keep our heads up and keep battling.”
Chartiers Valley fell to Cathedral Prep earlier this season, 8-6. The Ramblers are led by senior forward Jimmy Bufalino, who has 20 goals and 19 assists on the season.
The showdown between Cathedral Prep and Chartiers Valley is set for 7:10 p.m. at the Mt. Lebanon Ice Rink.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.