Class AA hockey: Bishop Canevin offense fizzles out again in final

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- In its first 23 games of the season, Bishop Canevin was never held to fewer than three goals.

But in the most important two games of the season, the Crusaders could only muster a total of three goals.

After beating Erie Cathedral Prep with just one goal Monday in the Penguins Cup championship, Bishop Canevin (23-2) couldn't overcome a lack of offense again Saturday in a 5-2 loss to Central Bucks South (19-3-1) in the Class AA Pennsylvania Cup at Penn State's Pegula Ice Arena.

"The last two games of the year, the two most critical games of the year, we weren't ourselves and I cannot put my finger on what the reason for that difference is," Bishop Canevin coach Kevin Zielmanski said.

Part of the issue was the team's power play, which was just 1 for 7 Saturday after going 0 for 6 Monday in the 1-0 victory.

The Crusaders power play had a golden opportunity 10 minutes into the game with a two-man advantage, and it looked like they capitalized when Garrett Godlewski batted a puck out of midair into the net. But the goal was waved off after officials ruled Godlewski hit the puck with a high stick.

The Crusaders had another power-play opportunity late in the first period, but Central Bucks South's Brendan Clements broke into the Bishop Canevin zone and fired a shot past Nikita Meskin to give the Titans a 1-0 lead.

"They were coming with multiple forechecks on the penalty-kill -- I counted five different ones -- and that's highly unusual," Zielmanski said. "Teams usually have one.

"I tried to give some instructions for some different things, but my guys, I think, were so frustrated that they weren't thinking of ways of breaking some of the things they were doing."

Bishop Canevin finally converted with the man-advantage five minutes into the second period when Randy Unger tallied his fourth goal of the playoffs and 31st of the season.

But any momentum the Crusaders enjoyed was short-lived, as Michael Pilla backhanded a shot past Meskin 13 seconds later to give the Titans a lead it would never relinquish.

"When a team scores, we've always been good at that counter-punch and coming back right away," Central Bucks South coach Thomas Coyne said. "The game's all about momentum and [Pilla's goal] got us right back where we needed to be."

Leo Flick added to the Titans' lead 55 seconds into the third period, making it the first time all season Bishop Canevin trailed by more than one goal.

But the Titans' lead was back to one less than a minute later, as Liam Walsh took advantage of a nice bounce off the boards after a Jason Bilski shot and beat goaltender Aaron King.

King shut out the Crusaders the rest of the way, though, finishing with 21 saves, while Flick and Michael Lucas added insurance goals to seal the first hockey state championship in Central Bucks South history.

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