Crusaders stun Colts with 6-5 comeback win
When the Chartiers Valley hockey team took a 4-0 lead against rival Bishop Canevin last week, the casual fan would think the Colts were on their way to a blowout win over the Crusaders.
But anyone who has followed the series in recent years knows not to count either team out no matter what the scoreboard says.
Bishop Canevin rallied from the four-goal deficit to skate away with a 6-5 win.
“These games are total chaos,” Bishop Canevin coach Kevin Zielmanski said. “Last year we were up 3-0 and they came back and took us into overtime. It is exciting for the players and a nice comeback, but it is a drain on the coaches.
“We talked to the team about staying poised and keeping composure because of the crowd. ”
Things couldn't have started any better for Chartiers Valley as a Bishop Canevin power play turned into a Colts scoring opportunity. Junior forward Anthony Franks collected the puck and snuck it past Crusader goalie Nikita Meskin for the early goal.
The momentum carried on through the period as Cullen McMahon scored on a power play and Robert Ferrari scored late in the period to give Chartiers Valley a 3-0 lead.
“It was a disastrous first period,” Zielmanski said. “They got two points off what we need to work on and one point off their players. We cannot allow shorthanded or power play goals.”
Early in the second period during a line change, Franks skated onto the ice and collected the puck, sending it into the net for an unassisted goal.
During the early minutes of the second period, play was stopped on the ice due to overzealous fans in the stands who were ejected. The long stop in play seemingly allowed Bishop Canevin to collect itself and it would come out the rest of the game energized.
“They seemed to take momentum during that break,” Chartiers Valley coach Sean Biancaniello said. “Its hard knowing we played so well and let it slip away.”
After the stoppage, Nicholas Rajakovich sent a rebound past Colts goalie Noah Stephenson to trim the lead to three.
Bishop Canevin added a power-play goal two minutes later as Garrett Godlewski sent the puck into the net on a slapshot from the blue line. The Crusaders added another power-play goal, this time from Patrick Large, before heading into intermission down 4-3.
Less than five minutes into the third period, the Crusaders scored a third straight power-play goal, this time from Austin Large, to tie the game. The Crusaders added two more goals – from Ross Langford and Godlewski – to go up 6-4. A late power-play goal by Chartiers Valley's Rich Monti wasn't enough to energize the Colts for the win.
“I told them after the game to remember how a loss like this feels,” Biancaniello said. “I told them how important it is to play a full game and not bits and pieces. We have to get back to the fundamentals of what led to our success in the first period.
“I told the boys before the game that by the end they would have to answer the question ‘how do you handle adversity?' That is what makes you a great team. We are not quite there yet.”
Godlewski led the Crusaders with two goals. Randy Unger and Alec Bosnic each added two assists.
Franks led the Colts with two goals. Ferrari, McMahon and Monti each finished with a goal and an asset.
Meskin finished with 19 saves. Stevenson finished with 33 saves.
The win gave the Crusaders a 3-0-1 mark and seven points – a Class AA best. The Colts fell to 1-1.
The win was a break in a recent trend in the series. The teams share the Mt. Lebanon Recreation Center as home ice and over the past three seasons, the team listed on the scoreboard as the home squad was the team that usually skated away with the win.
Bishop Canevin was the visitor in the one-goal win.
While that streak was broken, another trend is still in play. The two Section 2-AA rivals have split the series the past three seasons – a streak the Colts will look to continue on Feb. 11.
“The team needs to remember how they felt after this game because we will see these guys again,” Biancaniello said.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-388-5813.