A fast start, excellent special teams and stellar goaltending enabled Bishop Eustace to extend its dominance over St. Augustine with a 4-2 win last night at the Flyers Skate Zone in Pennsauken.
A raucous crowd kept the arena jumping throughout the Southern Conference Red Division ice hockey match, as both teams took turns displaying their speed and skills.
Yet in the end, the hosts again came out on top, improving to 17-1-1 all-time against the Hermits.
"We're a good team, but we've got to find a way to get past these guys," St. Augustine coach Ralph Triboletti said.
"I thought we took the play to them in the second and third periods, but they put the puck in the net on the power play and we didn't."
The Hermits (10-4 overall, 10-2 division) couldn't capitalize when Eustace's Mike Dwier went off for slashing just 1 minute, 25 seconds into the game.
Instead, eight seconds after killing off the penalty, the Crusaders opened the scoring when Tyler Hancock - with assists by Dwier and Kevin Gunther - found the net from close in.
A little less than two minutes later, Eustace (13-4-2, 8-2-1) went on the power play and needed just 24 seconds to cash in.
Chris Gentile beat Hermits goalie Kevin Healey (18 saves) from point-blank range for a 2-0 lead.
Crusaders netminder Colin Saltiel, who starred in an earlier 3-2 win over St. Augustine by turning aside 31 shots, was tested early en route to making 36 stops last night.
Midway through the first period, the Hermits had a pair of golden chances. But Zach Stern's stuff attempt from the doorstep was rejected and Mike Innaurato's backhander off a breakaway sailed inches over the crossbar.
"He makes the saves he's supposed to make," Triboletti said of Saltiel. "But he also makes one or two you wish he didn't."
The junior goalie did a night's work in the second period alone, when St. Augustine turned up its attack and peppered him with 17 shots. The Hermits cut their deficit in half when Stern redirected a feed from Innaurato just 1:49 into the period.
Yet in a telling sequence minutes later, Saltiel was both lucky (having lost sight of the puck, a deflection dropped at his feet) and good (despite being screened, he was able to get a pad in front of a wrist shot ticketed for the right corner of the net).
"It was smart for us to get out to a quick lead," Eustace coach Mike Green said. "They're a good team, and when momentum swung their way [in the second period], we were clinging to a one-goal lead mainly because of Colin."
The Crusaders regained the upper hand as the second period wound down. Sophomore defenseman Al Wooley (1 goal, 2 assists) rifled in a shot from the point on a two-man advantage, and Hancock picked up his second goal of the game 36 seconds later on the extended power play.
Stern struck again with 7:25 remaining in the third period, beating Saltiel to the stick side. But when Eustace killed off its final penalty with 50 seconds remaining, the home crowd exhaled and began celebrating yet another win over St. Augustine.
St. Augustine0 1 1 - 2
Bishop Eustace2 2 0 - 4
First period: 1, Bishop Eustace, Tyler Hancock (Mike Dwier, Kevin Grunther), 11:27. 2, Bishop Eustace, Chris Gentile (Taylor Morgan, Al Wooley), 9:05 (pp).
Second period: 3, St. Augustine, Zach Stern (Mike Innaurato), 13:11. 4, Bishop Eustace, Wooley (Dwier), 1:33 (pp). 5, Bishop Eustace, Hancock (Morgan, Wooley), :57 (pp).
Third period: 6, St. Augustine, Stern (Anthony Casale), 7:25.
Goalies: St. Augustine, Kevin Healey (22 shots, 18 saves). Bishop Eustace, Colin Saltiel (38 shots, 36 saves).
Contact suburban staff writer Pete Schnatz at 215-854-5817 or firstname.lastname@example.org.