NEVILLE TWP.,Pa- The Thomas Jefferson Jaguars were in complete control throughout their semi-final match up versus North Catholic on Tuesday night at the Island Sports Center as they handled the Trojans by a 4-1 score, to advance to the finals of the Penguins Cup. Led by two goals from Hunter Fairman and a strong effort in all three zones, the Jaguars simply refused to let the Trojans into the game, dominating both territory and the shot counter.
Covered and Smothered
Coming into the game the Jaguars had their plan ready to go and they executed it to near letter perfection as they bottled up a fairly potent North Catholic offensive attack, limiting the Trojans to just 10 shots on the night. The Jaguars won loose puck battles on every shift and made it nearly impossible for the Trojans to gather speed or cohesiveness in the neutral zone. Meanwhile, Thomas Jefferson took advantage of their opportunities as they earned them.
“It’s the playoffs so you have to be smart with the puck,” Jaguar head coach Bill Crousey said. “You don’t want to give them an easy one to get back into it, you want to make them come 200 feet and put three passes together and get one. The goal coming into this one was just to keep them in front of us and not give them a free one like a breakaway and we knew our chances would come. We did a great job of limiting their opportunities for sure.”
Colby Bilski got the Jaguars off and running less than a minute into the game with his first playoff goal of the post season. However, North Catholic’s leading scorer, Dominic Dezort responded for his side with his second playoff goal at 16:18 to even up the score just before the period came to a close.
Over the final two frames, the Jaguars simply took over the game with authority, holding the Trojans to a mere five shots over the final 34 minutes of play, including just one shot in the third period. On the scoring side, Fairman beat Trojan netminder Chris McFayden just 1:17 into the second frame to give his team the lead for good. Forward Eddie Pazo, who supplied an assist on Fairman’s first goal, let a shot go that made it’s way to the back of the net at 12:21 to supply a cushion to the Jaguar lead before the end of the period. Fairman then snagged a puck in neutral ice and found himself on a breakaway where he picked his corner and let it rip past McFayden for the final insurance tally.
“Normally we’re an offensive team and we put up a lot of goals but we give up a little bit of that to play a little more defense and we’ve given up zero and one in two playoff games.
The Jaguars will take on the Indiana Indians in the Class ‘A’ Penguins Cup final on Monday, March 16 at 8:30 pm at the UMPC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry, PA.