PENNSAUKEN - With a chance to clinch the Southern
Conference Red Division regular-season title, the Bishop Eustace Prep
ice hockey team threw everything it had at Red Bank Catholic and
goaltender Tony Baptist.
However, Baptist was outstanding in net, stopping
49 of 50 shots as the teams traded power play goals in a 1-1 tie.
The Crusaders came out flying in the first period
and controlled the play until the final buzzer. Bishop Eustace set the
tempo early with strong cycling down low and a dominating physical
presence. The Crusaders were strong in the corners and first to just
about every loose puck.
Their penalty killing was outstanding and their
puck support was equally as great.
Even so, they couldn't crack Baptist for more than
"You have to give credit to their goaltending and
the fact that they didn't give up anything,' Crusaders head coach Mike
"Their defense crowded the net and we had to take a
lot of shots from the outside,' Bishop Eustace junior Tim Purwin said.
Purwin opened the scoring at 1 minute, 47 seconds
of the second period, when he got his own rebound and slammed it home.
Four minutes later Bishop Eustace nearly extended its lead, but Baptist
slid across his crease and denied Crusaders forward Brett Hextall.
The Crusaders' lines continued to dominate the
play, keeping the puck inside the Caseys' zone for long stretches.
Still, they couldn't get another one by Baptist. Midway through the
second period, things began to unravel for Bishop Eustace.
Having decisively outshot and outplayed their
counterparts, the Crusaders were frustrated and angry heading into the
"I think the penalties at the end of the second
period really turned the momentum around,' Green said. "Unfortunately,
that's something that high school kids have to learn. If you're
controlling the momentum of the game, it doesn't make any sense to go to
the (penalty) box.'
Just as in the first two periods, the third was
dominated by the Crusaders. The Crusaders outshot the Caseys 27-6 in the
final frame, but were left shaking their heads. Bishop Eustace continued
to pepper Baptist with shots, but never found the back of the net.
The Caseys had nothing to lose going into the game
with a third-place finish in the division already cemented. Had the
Crusaders won, they would have finished tied with St. Augustine, but won
the division based on a head-to-head tiebreaker.
Now, Bishop Eustace likely will finish second
behind St. Augustine.
Being unable to clinch was quite a letdown for the
Crusaders, but they still can prevail in the Southern Conference
playoffs before they get their seed for the state tournament.
"It's kind of a bummer but there is nothing much we
can do about it now,' Purwin said. "We are just looking to win the
"If we stay composed and play fundamentally
disciplined hockey, we should be fine,' Green said. "All the teams in
the conference have had close games with each other so it's going to
come down to the team that plays intelligently.'
Reach Bob Badders at (856) 486-2424.