Based on the results the first two times Bishop Canevin and Erie Cathedral Prep played this season, one would have expected a high-scoring game in the PIHL Class AA Penguins Cup championship Monday night at Consol Energy Center.
But that wasn't the case.
Sophomore forward Thomas Krivak was credited with the only goal of the game 3:45 into the first period as the Crusaders skated away with a 1-0 victory.
"I would have lost the mortgage on my house if you would have said that Bishop Canevin and Cathedral Prep would end up 1-0," said Ramblers coach Craig Barnett.
Krivak got the puck just above the right circle on a nice pass from Blaine Adams, and his deflected shot eluded goalie Grant Kennedy. Krivak was quick to credit Adams, whom he said had a feeling a shot from the circle was available.
"On the bench the shift before, Blaine was telling me to look high in the slot and be ready because [Prep] kept leaving that open," Krivak said. "Blaine got the puck in the corner and I went to the slot and no one was there and I just wanted to put it on net. [The Prep defender] got a great stick on it, and the puck just flipped over the goalie and I got a lucky bounce into the net."
It was the Crusaders' first Penguins Cup championship since 2011 and their seventh overall. Bishop Canevin advanced to the state championship game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Pegula Arena at Penn State against the winner of the Flyers Cup championship today between Central Bucks South and Souderton.
Bishop Canevin defeated Erie Prep earlier this season, 8-5, but also lost to the Rambers, 5-4.
"It was definitely nerve-racking," said Crusaders coach Kevin Zielmanski about protecting a one-goal lead for nearly three periods. A big reason for that was the play of senior goalie Nikita Meskin, who stopped 22 shots. Kennedy was nearly perfect for Erie Prep, turning aside 18 of 19 shots.
"The only mindset is to keep the puck out," said Meskin, who has been playing hockey since he and his family moved to the United States from Russia when he was 6. "I'll do anything in my power to do that."
Meskin's resolve was severely tested early in the second period when the Ramblers had a two-man advantage for 14 seconds. But his defense came up big when the Crusaders won the faceoff after the second penalty was called, and they sent the puck down the rink, effectively killing off the first power play.