Plum hockey fades in loss
A pair of wins that bookended the PIHL's holiday break proved that Plum belongs among Class AA's top teams.
A setback Monday night suggested the Mustangs aren't quite ready to merit consideration as the best.
Though able to stay close to Bishop Canevin (11-1) through two periods, Plum (7-4-2) faded in the final period of its 7-3 loss at Trib Total Media Pittsburgh Ice Arena. The loss spoiled a stretch for the Mustangs that included a win over Erie Cathedral Prep (7-3-2) on Friday and a victory over Hampton (9-5) on Dec. 16.
“We relish the opportunity to go up against a team like that,” Plum coach Dave Stonebraker said. “They have a lot of nice things going on with that club. Are we in awe of it? No. Do we respect it? Yes. … From our standpoint, for two periods, we competed very, very hard. Then we had a letdown.”
The balance of Bishop Canevin's offense became apparent early in the first period, as the Crusaders sent one line after another onto the ice, and the shot count piled up. By the end of the period, Bishop Canevin had a 16-7 edge in shots on goal.
Two of those shots found the back of the net. Garrett Godlewski scored the game's opening goal with 10:18 left in the first period, as he collected a rebound on the backside of Plum's crease and fired into a wide-open net.
Alec Bosnic beat James Borriello with a shot from the right circle during a rush five minutes later to give Bishop Canevin a 2-0 lead.
“We don't really have any weak links,” Bishop Canevin coach Kevin Zielmanski said. “I was telling someone early in the year, ‘Good luck trying to pick out who to stop.' ”
Dillon Joyce provided Plum a spark with four minutes left, as he hustled into Bishop Canevin's zone, won a puck along the boards, carried it behind the net and slid a pass out front to a wide-open Joe Randazzo, who snapped a one-timer past goaltender Nikita Meskin.
Plum continued to cut the deficit but failed to score an equalizer as the game proceeded.
Blaine Adams opened and closed the second period with goals for Bishop Canevin, as he scored from the left circle with 14:06 left and buried a rebound on the backside of the crease with :15 left.
In between Adams' goals, David Stonebraker, the coach's son, had a highlight-reel power play goal in which he carried the puck down the left boards into Bishop Canevin's zone and then zipped a wrist shot to the top-right corner of the net.
Goals by Bosnic, Liam Walsh and Randy Unger gave Bishop Canevin a 7-2 lead in the third period.
“If we're dictating tempo and handling the puck, somebody is going to have to play really well to beat us,” Zielmanski said. “We've got more than two or three guys that someone has to worry about.”
David Stonebraker scored his second goal of the night on an assist from Randazzo in the game's final two minutes.
Borriello finished with 33 saves, while Meskin had 14 stops.
“As a club, we have a very young locker room, and that makes it difficult because they are learning experiences,” coach Dave Stonebraker said. “But by the same token, we competed with an elite team in the league. We're going to take the loss and the lumps that go along with it but at the same time build from it.”