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Top-seeded Bishop Canevin hockey team downs Plum after slow start

| Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Austin Large, No. 1, had two goals to help lead Bishop Canevin to a 5-2 win over Plum in the Class AA Penguins Cup playoffs.
Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item
Austin Large, No. 1, had two goals to help lead Bishop Canevin to a 5-2 win over Plum in the Class AA Penguins Cup playoffs.
Matthew Bilski and the Crusaders return to the Penguins Cup semifinals after being eliminated in the quarterfinals last season.
Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item
Matthew Bilski and the Crusaders return to the Penguins Cup semifinals after being eliminated in the quarterfinals last season.
Nikita Meskin made 24 saves against Plum.
Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item
Nikita Meskin made 24 saves against Plum.

Bishop Canevin hockey coach Kevin Zielmanski compared watching his squad's first two periods against Plum last week to watching someone stuck in quicksand — the harder they tried, the further they sank.

“If you try to do too much and get outside your comfort zone and you are not making the simple pass or simple play, you start making mistakes,” Zielmanski said. “And then they started compounding on one another, and the other team capitalizes and they gain confidence.”

The Crusaders were able to overcome sloppy play in the first two periods to record a 5-2 win over the Mustangs in the PHIL Class AA Penguins Cup quarterfinals.

Bishop Canevin scored first as Patrick Large sent the puck in from the right circle on a power play with 10:40 left to go in the first. Plum responded with 3:58 to go in the period as David Stonebraker snuck the puck past goalie Nikita Meskin to tie it up at 1-1.

A Plum penalty led to the second Bishop Canevin goal: Garrett Godlewski scored off a pass from Brennan Adams at the 9:43 mark of the second period. But less than a minute later, Plum's Joe Randazzo responded to tie it, 2-2.

“I told the team, ‘I don't know if Plum is good enough to win five in a row to win states, but I know they sure as heck can win tonight if we don't play well,' ” Zielmanski said

The Crusaders created some breathing room late in the period when Austin Large took the puck from the left side of the net to the right and scored past goalie Taylor Cestra.

“They were giving more effort than my guys,” Zielmanski said. “That was my message at intermission. The lack of effort was inexcusable. Even though we had the lead, we should of been losing. They were pursuing the pick with more effort than we were. I had one of my louder tirades, because the effort was poor.”

Bishop Canevin extended its lead to two early in the final period. Godlewski scored his second power-play goal of the night.

“I was able to find space,” Godlewski said. “Brennan Adams made a good, heads-up play on my first goal, and Austin Large did the same on the second.”

Austin Large scored on a breakaway with 10:29 to give the Crusaders a three-goal advantage.

Austin Large led the Crusaders with five points, including two goals and three assist. Adams recorded four assists.

Godlewski — who finished the regular season with seven goals and nine assists — had a strong night with two goals.

“It may have been better we had a tough game to start the playoffs,” Godlewski said. “If we blow a team out, we would go into the next game a little more easy-going. A tougher game like this helps us out and gets us ready.”

Bishop Canevin was able to make the most of its power-play opportunities, scoring goals on three of its six power plays.

Meskin recorded 24 saves.

It was the second game of the season between the squads; the Crusaders won, 7-0, on Nov. 1.

“Players have such a period of time that they can improve that what happens in November has little impact on now,” Zielmanski said. “The hockey season is so long. We started before basketball, and that has already ended except for states. The only thing those early games do is allow one team to be a little overconfident.”

The Crusaders faced Pine-Richland in the Penguins Cup semifinals Tuesday. Results were unavailable at press time.

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

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