March 3, 2005

Eustace skates to Southern Division Red title

Inquirer Suburban Staff


When the season started, Tim Purwin was more concerned with preventing goals than scoring them.

But in the course of several months, the Bishop Eustace senior has been transformed from standout defenseman to puck-carrying forward with a knack for finding the net in the clutch.

Yesterday at the Flyers Skate Zone in Pennsauken, Purwin showed off his newly refined skills by putting in the go-ahead goal late in the first period, and Eustace went on to defeat Middletown North, 2-0, to capture its second consecutive Southern Division Red championship.

"Timmy is really the MVP of the team," said coach Michael Green. "He's probably the best skater we have and when we went to him about making the switch to forward, he didn't hesitate. Now he's developed into the most dominant player on the ice."

Wearing a brace given to him by the Flyers' Keith Primeau to protect a left shoulder that he separated twice over the last week, Purwin appeared in top form when it counted most.

Teammate Tyler Hancock attempted to carry the play into the Middletown North zone with just over four minutes remaining in the opening period. But as Hancock was met at the blue line by a pair of Lions defenders, the puck squirted free. Purwin swooped in, picked it up and, as he glided to his right, he caught goalie Luke Nesbihal off balance with a low, slow shot.

"I just wanted to get the puck into the net. I didn't care how bad it looked," Purwin said.

The teams traded scoring chances throughout the middle period and well into the third before Shane Viola's wrist-shot from in close snuck between Nesbihal's pads and trickled across the goal line with 7 minutes, 10 seconds to go in the game to give the Crusaders (14-6) some breathing room.

The rest was up to sophomore goaltender Colin Saltiel, who shut out every division opponent except the Lions during the regular season.

"It was a little challenge that I took upon myself," said Saltiel, who stopped 17 shots in blanking the Lions (13-7-3).

Eustace celebrated by skating the championship trophy - the Handchen Cup - around the rink, before focusing on the next task ahead. The Crusaders face St. Peter's Prep in Bayonne tomorrow in the state tournament.

Middletown North   0 0 0 - 0

Bishop Eustace        1 0 1 - 2

Goals: BE-Tim Purwin (Tyler Hancock, Kevin Grunther), 4:00 left in first period; BE-Shane Viola (Dan Dwier, Lou Tumolo), 7:10 left in third period.

Saves: BE-Colin Saltiel 17; MN-Luke Nesbihal 24.

Contact suburban staff writer Pete Schnatz at 215-854-5817 or