South/West Xtra: 'Power outage' ruins Canevin's title hopes

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No team in PIHL Class AA hockey scored more goals during the regular season than Bishop Canevin, but the Crusaders found it difficult to put the puck in the net when it mattered most.

After scoring 159 goals in its first 23 games, Bishop Canevin (23-3) managed just one in its Penguins Cup victory against Erie Cathedral Prep Monday and two in a three-goal loss to Central Bucks South in the Pennsylvania Cup Saturday.

"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.

Both Erie Cathedral Prep and Central Bucks South did a good job on Randy Unger, who led PIHL Class AA in points during the regular season with 75 -- the most by a Class AA player in the past decade -- and added nine points in his first two postseason games.

But he was held scoreless for the first time all season against the Ramblers, and although he did score the Crusaders' first goal Saturday, he was bottled up most of the day as the Titans employed "a shadow" defender on him.

"You can't ignore his stats; [Unger] is a terrific player," Central Bucks South coach Thomas Coyne said. "A lot of their offense comes right up through the middle and we thought if we could keep it to the outside in the neutral zone and just go hip to hip with him, we'd be OK."

Unger's goal, which came off a rebound, tied the game at 1 in the second period.

But the Titans responded immediately, as Michael Pilla scored 13 seconds later to give Central Bucks South a lead it would not relinquish.

"Every time we seemed to get a little momentum, they responded very quickly," Zielmanski said. "We just couldn't get anything sustained."

The loss was the first time the Crusaders lost in regulation all season, and it was also the first time this season Bishop Canevin trailed by more than a goal.

Of course, the Crusaders were facing a school whose calculated boys enrollment for the next two-year cycle is 972, whereas Bishop Canevin's is 135.

"There's obviously a major difference in enrollment, but we're not going to point to that," Zielmanski said. "We've been the same-sized school all year. We should be 'A' classification based on enrollment, but Bishop Canevin has always played AA.

"That's not an excuse. We were not effective [Saturday]. We didn't move the puck and I don't know why we didn't move the puck."

The loss to the Titans brings an end to the high school careers of six Crusader seniors -- forwards Unger and Garrett Godlewski, defensemen Brennen Adams, the team's captain, Gus Peponidis and Nicholas Rajakovich and three-time all-star goaltender Nikita Meskin.

"They earned two Penguins Cups in their careers and one state championship," Zielmanski said. "They had a second opportunity [Saturday]. There aren't many classes that do that.

"I'll remember six guys who were all very good student-athletes and were not much trouble for the coaching staff and represented the school very well."

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