Costanza’s Hat Trick Leads Crusaders over Griffins

December 23, 2006

PENNSAUKEN — With just over ten minutes remaining in the third period and the Crusaders down 4-3, Bishop Eustace Senior Tyler Hancock knew someone would have to step up if the Crusaders were to move ahead of Monsignor Donovan in the Southern Conference standings.  Just as he has done so many times in the past, Hancock found a way to score a huge goal to deadlock the game at 4.  Hancock took advantage of a costly defensive breakdown when he took a pass from Sophomore Chris Gentile and sent a shot past goaltender Todd Hankel.  It seemed as though history would repeat itself.  The Crusaders had tied the Griffins last week in Toms River 4-4, and this game appeared as though it would end in the same manner.

That was until Senior Chris Costanza’s tremendous play resulted in his first career hat trick to lead the Crusaders to victory.  With less than two minutes remaining, Costanza made a diving play over the blueline to try and send the puck deep in the offensive zone.  It failed, but Freshman Jamie Hill recovered the puck and began pushing through the neutral zone.  Sensing the attack, Costanza managed to get back and straddle the blue line just in time to watch Hill carry the puck in before passing to  Gentile.  With all three driving to the net, Costanza managed to put the puck past the Hankel with 1:31 left to play.

“This was a huge win for us,” Crusaders Coach Mike Green said. “As a team, we felt we let a point get away last week (tying in Toms River) and I told them a win today would be a major step towards clinching a home first round game in the Conference playoffs.”

The Crusaders (4-2-2, 3-1-2) never backed down against Donovan (3-2-1, 3-2-1) in a wild contest that saw the lead change hands five times.  Neither team held more than a one-goal advantage, and it usually didn't last for very long. Aside from Eustace holding a 1-0 advantage after one period, four minutes was usually enough for the opposition to strike back.

Costly Crusaders’ mistakes turned powerplays into nightmares.  Junior forward Mike Seyglinski's back-to-back shorthanded goals turned a 3-2 Eustace lead into a 4-3 deficit 3:47 into the third period. Two minutes later, Hancock scored the equalizer.

Donovan’s physical and sometimes overly aggressive play ultimately came back to bite the Griffins. Badly timed pinches by defensemen along with forwards positioned too low gave Costanza two breakaways he was sure to take advantage of.

Vinnie Mariani started the scoring when a lucky bounce gave the Crusaders a 1-0 lead. Sophomore defenseman Zach Green’s blast from point hit Mariani in front of the net and caromed in. Tim Buckley deadlocked the game at 2:43 of the second period. About 18 seconds later, Colton Hurley beat Crusaders goaltender Nick Casella for a 2-1 lead.

Costanza's two break-away goals gave the Crusaders a 3-2 advantage. Both times, his speed was simply too much to handle for the Donovan defensemen that had joined the offensive play.  As the game winner went in, several hats from the Crusaders' faithful littered the ice, delaying the center ice face off.

"This was a tremendous effort by all twenty guys, and it felt great to do my part," added Costanza.  "Its a win that will definitely mean a lot in March when the playoff seedings are set."