Bishop Eustace Ice Hockey has had share of success
February 22, 2003
By DON BENEVENTO
PENNSAUKEN – With each passing season, the Bishop Eustace Prep School Ice Hockey team continues to show improvement.
The progress may not always be measured in wins and losses – the Crusaders finished their regular season with a 4-11-5 mark after dropping a hard-fought 4-3 decision to St. Joseph Metuchen on Friday at the Flyers Skate Zone – but coach Mike Green said advances are being made in other areas.
“Each year we add more depth,” he said.
“I played prep school hockey in New England and you can see that the level of talent, not only with our team, but with the state of New Jersey is starting to catch up with New England.”
“We’re starting to see more year-round players who are getting very serious about their sport.”
One of those players is Bishop Eustace senior Pat Murray, a team captain and four-year player.
A Voorhees resident, he said he chose to attend Bishop Eustace because it offered ice hockey as a state sanctioned sport.
“When I was younger, I played all the sports,” Murray said. “It came down to making a decision between football and hockey, and I went with hockey.”
Murray said he likes hockey because, “it’s so different from every other sport.”
But he also said playing the game requires a lot of dedication and hard work.
“We practice two times a week, but there’s a lot more to it than that,” he said. “You don’t just show up and play. You’re always training and working out and going over strategies.”
Now that Murray knows he’s facing the end of his career as a scholastic player, he has no regrets about the path he chose.
“Playing ice hockey at Bishop Eustace is the best experience I’ve ever had,” he said. “I’ve been playing hockey since I was little, but this is the biggest level I’ve ever played. I’m happy with the way my career has gone, and this year, we’ve come a long way as a team.”
Indeed. Despite its sub-.500 record, Bishop Eustace has continued to gain respect throughout the state. The Crusaders annually play one of the toughest schedules in the state, and they’ve had their share of success.
Eustace accomplished one of its primary goals for the season by clinching a home playoff game in the Parochial State Tournament. That game will be played against St. Peter’s Prep on March 7 at the Skate Zone.
Green pointed out that three of the Crusader’s ties have come against some of the state’s truly elite teams. The Eustace record includes three deadlocks with No. 3 Seton Hall Prep, No. 4 Hudson Catholic, and No. 9 Brick Township.
Perhaps their biggest victory of the year came over No. 11 Don Bosco Prep. The Crusaders also have a win and a tie over St. Augustine Prep, the only other state sanctioned team playing in South Jersey.
On Thursday, Eustace rallied from a two-goal deficit in the final 40 seconds to tie St. Augustine 5-5. Both of those goals came off the stick of junior Joey Johnston, who also scored a goal on Friday against St. Joseph Metuchen.
Sean Kohler and Mark Kohler added the other goals Friday, but Eustace lost when Steve Jensen scored a power play goal with 3:12 to play.
While others may have had more impact on the ice for Eustace this season, Green said the contributions Murray has made in the locker room have also been a key.
“He keeps the other kids motivated and excited,” Green said. “You can throw him in on the power play and he’ll get a goal (as he did Thursday against St. Augustine), but the big thing he adds is motivation.”
For example, Green said Murray has been the one to step up and remind his teammates not to get too down after a loss because of the toughness of their schedule.
“He’s the kind of kid who will keep it in perspective for the others,” Green said. “This season was about getting to the state tournament and getting a home game, and he’s the one who reminds the other kids of that.”
Now it remains to be seen if the Crusaders can take the next step and win in the tournament.