Mustangs conclude season with loss to Bishop Canevin in Class AA quarterfinals
The Plum varsity ice hockey team started its 2012-13 season 0-4-1, and at the time, head coach Dave Stonebraker said his team wasn't playing well but had the ability to turn the season around.
The Mustangs were, in fact, able to recover, and they posted an 8-10-1 regular season record and made the playoffs.
Plum went 1-1 in the postseason, and the No. 8 seed gave top-seeded Bishop Canevin a run for its money in the Penguin Cup Class AA quarterfinals last week.
But the Crusaders pulled away after a close two periods of action and posted a 5-2 victory.
Head coach Dave Stonebraker said senior captains Jordan Gable and Andrew Walters summed up the season the best.
“Both spoke to the fact that we had a tough start, and we didn't get our first win until four or five games in,” Stonebraker said.
“From that point on, we decided that we weren't going to back down and we battled over and over again through different situations. There were only one or two games where we were really out of it. There were a lot of one- or two-goal games where we battled to the end. It was some tenacious work on their part to make sure this season was not going to be for naught.”
The March 6 playoff clash was another one-goal game heading into the third period, as Bishop Canevin held a 3-2 lead.
Plum battled back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits on goals from sophomore David Stonebraker and junior Joe Randazzo but was unable to grab a lead over the first 34 minutes.
The Crusaders tallied a power-play goal just 1:52 into the third period to make it 4-2 and added some insurance with a goal five minutes later.
“We went into the game with one focus and that was we wanted the game to go deep,” coach Stonebraker said.
“We wanted it to be a tie game or a one-goal game either way. We didn't think we would be able to build a big lead against them, but we felt if we could keep it close, we could take our chances.
“We were able to do that deep into the second period and were playing a strong game. We were executing our game plan. We went into the third period and weren't able to maintain that momentum.”
Coach Stonebraker pointed to some untimely penalties and the lack of depth as compared to Bishop Canevin as contributors to the tough third period.
Walters finished the game with assists on both Plum goals, while Randazzo also assisted on Stonebraker's first-period tally.
Including the playoffs, Randazzo scored a team best 30 goals and added 16 assists, while Walters had 25 goals and 27 assists.
Stonebraker scored three playoff goals, giving him 15 for the season to go along with 13 assists.
Senior goaltender Taylor Cestra stopped 37 of Bishop Canevin's 42 shots.
This was the third season in a row the Mustangs played in the playoff quarterfinals and the third year it bowed out in that round.
The quarterfinal playoff setback marked the final game in the varsity careers of Walters, Gable, Cestra and fellow seniors Todd Ruggiero, Zach Crawford, James D'Andrea, Derek Zgibor, Andrew Pagano and Dom Macioce.
“I'm very proud of the seniors who will be graduating, and I am equally proud of the players who will be returning,” coach Stonebraker said. “This is now the beginning of the next season.”
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.