Tyler Hancock scored two goals and Colin Saltiel made 31 saves, as Bishop Eustace handed host St. Augustine its first loss of the season, 3-2, last night in a spirited Southern Conference Red Division ice hockey game at the Vineland Ice Arena.
"The difference," said St. Augustine coach Ralph Triboletti, "was Mr. Saltiel. When you outshoot somebody 33-11, you're supposed to win. But he seems to step up whenever he plays us."
The host Hermits (8-1 overall, 7-1 division) came out firing, peppering Saltiel from every angle and took the lead with 3 minutes, 52 seconds left in the opening period when Dom Morrone's drop pass allowed Kevin Crowe to find the left corner of the net from in close.
The boisterous St. Augustine student section immediately started a chant of "it's all over," but Bishop Eustace quieted the crowd 48 seconds later when Hancock, left alone at the right post, stuffed in the tying goal. Less than a minute later, the Crusaders (7-4, 4-2) took the lead for good as Taylor Morgan converted a feed from Shane Viola.
Midway through the second period, Hancock was wide open in front of the net when he redirected a pass from Kevin Grunther to push the advantage to 3-1, and Eustace appeared on the verge of breaking the game open.
But after Hancock's backhander on a short-handed breakaway sailed wide of the net, and the Crusaders flubbed a three-on-one rush, St. Augustine regained some momentum with Rob Baskow's goal with just 21 seconds left in the second period.
Although a penalty at the horn enabled St. Augustine to start the third period with a man advantage, nothing the Hermits threw at the net was able to get past Saltiel - at least none of the shots went into the net. With 6:48 to go in regulation, the puck dribbled between the junior's pads and rolled through the crease and just wide of the post.
"We completely respect them, they have a heck of a team," Saltiel said. "I was just on top of my game."
The Hermits continued to buzz in the Eustace zone, but Saltiel repeatedly took away openings with his butterfly style, and his teammates ensured that the front of the crease remained clear. On St. Augustine's final rush, Morrone had the puck poke-checked off his stick just inside the Crusaders' blue line as time expired.
Bishop Eustace coach Mike Green thanked his two junior stars for enabling the Crusaders to improve their all-time record against the Hermits to 16-1-1.
"We're not looking for Colin to throw shutouts, but we do expect him to keep us in games," Green said. "And Hancock is our go-to offensive player. That's his role, and we ride him pretty hard to produce."
Bishop Eustace2 1 0 - 3
St. Augustine1 1 0 - 2
Goals: BE-Tyler Hancock; Taylor Morgan 2. SA-Kevin Crowe; Rob Baskow.
Saves: BE-Colin Saltiel 31. SA-Kevin Healey 8.