Bishop Canevin captures Class AA Penguins Cup title
Kevin Zielmanski said before his team's game with Erie Cathedral Prep that defense would be the difference in which team came out on top.
This wasn't what he had in mind.
Bishop Canevin outlasted Erie Cathedral Prep, 1-0, Monday to win its seventh PIHL Penguins Cup Class AA championship at the Consol Energy Center. The Crusaders now return to the Pennsylvania Cup championship Saturday at Penn State's Pegula Arena for the first time since 2011.
Thomas Krivek scored the lone goal when his wrist shot from the slot deflected off a defender's stick over Erie Cathedral Prep goalie Grant Kennedy's left shoulder in the first period. Blaine Adams was credited with an assist.
“There's not a lot of words that you can say to console your team, except how proud we are of them,” Erie Cathedral Prep coach Craig Barnett said. “I just never would have thought we'd be in a championship game and be held to no goals.”
The game was equally surprising for Zielmanski, who struggled to watch his defense cover for the offense's weakest showing of the year.
“It's definitely nerve-wracking and leads to some anxious moments,” Zielmanski said. “It's not that we can't do it, because as you saw, we did it tonight. It's just not something we usually have to do.”
Both teams rode prolific offenses to reach Monday's game. In their two meetings this season, the Penguins Cup finalists combined for 22 goals in a split of the season series.
But it was the goalies that stole the show in the rubber-match.
Bishop Canevin's Nikita Meskin was flawless, recording 19 saves in the shutout.
“The only goal on my mind is to not let the puck in,” Meskin said. “The boys put one in, and so that means I can't let any in.”
“I did the best I could to get Canevin somewhere, and I hope I succeeded.”
Krivek played the role of unlikely hero, and took advantage of the opportunity that came his way, in a game where the teams combined to go 0 for 11 on the power play.
“On the bench the shift before, Blaine was telling me to look high in the slot and be ready, because they keep leaving it open,” Krivek said. “I remember Blaine getting the puck in the corner and I immediately went straight to the net. No one was there and I just wanted to get the shot on net.”
The Crusaders were outshot 19-22 but managed to hold off a third period push to outlast the Ramblers.
Kennedy finished with 21 saves, none bigger than the one he made with 1:17 remaining in the game. Kennedy stoned Randy Unger on a breakaway opportunity before gloving the rebound attempt by Liam Walsh to keep the Ramblers in the game.
But Meskin wouldn't be outdone. With 4.2 seconds remaining, the senior made a sprawling glove save on John Colvin's shot from the right wing to seal the win.
“You've got to give it all,” Meskin said. “Until that final buzzer rings you've got to give 110 percent. The team's trying for you and so you've got to give them what they deserve.”
Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.