NEVILLE TWP., PA — Fans at the Island Sports Center were treated to a intense battle with a brilliant goaltender’s duel as the visiting Holy Cross Crusaders broke open a scoreless battle with two third period goals en route to a 2-0 win and a lead in the best of three Atlantic Hockey playoff series. Senior forward Neil Robinson put his stick on the puck last during a wild play that saw the the piece of vulcanized rubber bounce every which way, putting it past starting Colonial netminder Justin Kapelmaster at 6:18 of the third period.
“We talked about controlling momentum and they controlled the momentum,” Colonial head coach Derek Schooley said. “They got the penalty kill on the five on three and came right down and scored right after it. They were pumped up and that’s the momentum of a hockey game. You don’t chalk it up to all of that. We had our chances in the first period to bury pucks and we didn’t and so far it’s the story of our season. We wasted a good performance from Justin Kapelmaster. Our backs are against the wall and we’ve to come out tomorrow and do better.”
The Colonials got off to a solid start in the first period, enjoying both shot and scoring chance advantages, however ending up missing on prime opportunities. Crusader goaltender Matt Radomsky played a key factor in the outcome, keeping the Colonials off the scoreboard until his teammates got to their game with more consistency later on. Overall, Radomsky stopped all 31 shots he faced in collecting the playoff shutout while keeping rebounds to a minimum and displaying a skillful glove hand.
“We were focused and prepared and we had a great first period,” Schooled remarked. “In the second, our discipline got away from us and we have to make sure that it’s better. We can’t kill seven penalties. We’ve got to get pucks out of our own end and we got pinned in our end too much.”
As the game progressed, the Crusaders simply took over by keeping the Colonials hemmed in their end for large stretches at a time. The Colonials didn’t help their own cause, committing undisciplined penalties and watching their momentum evaporate after receiving a two-man advantage in the third while it was still scoreless. The Crusader penalty kill was up to task, not allowing a shot during the crucial power play. The moment gave Holy Cross a huge lift as the bench became loud and boisterous afterwar Robinson’s goal, which occurred just a few shifts later.
In the Colonial net, Justin Kapelmaster stopped 36 of the 38 shots he faced, turning in a solid performance that should have been more than enough to help his team win.
A FINAL CRUSADE?
Robert Morris needs to find a way to put the effort behind them quickly as their season is on the line on Saturday night in a do-or-die game two at the Island Sports Center.
“This is a resilient group,” Schooley said. “I’ve got faith in this group and I believe in this group. We don’t have a choice. We have to get this done tomorrow or our season is over. We’ve been in this season before a couple of times and came back. Now it’s one game at a time. Every shift matters.”
The two teams square off at 7:05 pm on Saturday at the Island Sports Center.