On Monday after school Bishop Canevin head coach Kevin Zielmanski, his team coming off an embarrassing first loss of the season to red-hot Chartiers Valley, put his kids through drills that centered on two concepts: traffic and rebound control. Several hours later they used the lessons learned to make an extraordinary goaltender look ordinary.
Freshman forward Randy Unger netted a pair of power play goals and Zack Daley made 21 saves for his sixth win of the season as the Crusaders (8-1-0), the No. 3 team in Class AA per MSA Sports, coasted to a 5-2 victory over the West Allegheny Indians (7-2-2), the Post-Gazette’s number one team (MSA Sports’ No. 4), in non-section play at the Mount Lebanon Ice Arena.
The win helps Canevin maintain its slim point percentage lead on aforementioned Chartiers Valley in Section 3, while West Allegheny remains atop Section 2, two points ahead of Montour, despite seeing its nine-game unbeaten streak come to an end. The Crusaders have a game in hand, as does West A.
Kumpfmiller, who finished with 23 saves and has played every minute thus far, has been a key to the Indians overcoming their relative lack of scoring punch and getting off to a solid start. He entered this game second among starters in Class AA in goals-against average and tops in save percentage, so imagine the B-12 shot of confidence the Crusaders must have received when an unlikely sniper got one by him on one try.
Just 1:37 into the game forward Marc Slomiany settled down a pass from Matt Walsh at the top of the left wing circle. On his team’s first shot he fired a puck that whizzed through a well-placed screen and eluded Kumpfmiller for his first goal of the 2010-11 campaign, giving Canevin a 1-0 lead it would hold for the remainder of the first period.
“We got a couple of fortunate bounces, which we’ll always take against Kumpfmiller, as good as he is,” Zielmanski said afterward. “Against that caliber goalie, it’s paramount you get in front of the net. I was pleased that happened, and we got rewarded for it.
“As the game progressed, it felt like we were in control of it. Getting an early goal certainly helped that.”
The Crusaders ended the period with a slight 7-6 edge in shots and a major edge in quality chances. But as badly as the Indians’ offense has been outclassed, their defense, whose prior 18 goals allowed had been the second-fewest in the classification, blocked shots, controlled gaps, and killed two penalties with their usual responsible brand of hockey.
The top power play unit in Class AA, however, would not be denied when Unger found a loose puck in West Allegheny territory down low along the boards early in the second period. He skated right in front, all alone, got Kumpfmiller to go down, and easily fired it past him with 12:37 left in the frame to give Bishop Canevin a 2-0 lead.
West Allegheny had yet to match Canevin’s energy, as the Crusaders continued to out-hustle the Indians offensively, but it took just one flurry in front of netminder Zack Daley to get the visitors back into the game. Jared DiSanti took a slap shot from the left side that Daley stopped but could not hold, and amidst a sea of bodies, fellow forward Jacob Druga flipped home the rebound for his sixth of the year, cutting the lead to 2-1 with six minutes till intermission.
Just as quickly as West A got back in it, the Crusaders took them back out directly off an offensive zone faceoff win by Chadd Lounder. The puck slid back to defenseman Kendall King, who fired a shot from the left point that surprised Kumpfmiller and trickled between his legs to give a two-goal cushion back to Canevin only 2:30 later. Bishop Canevin would end the period with that same advantage and with a 21-14 advantage in shots.
Daley did his part to preserve that advantage. Three and a half minutes into the third period, after a failed West A power play, DiSanti found a rebound and found the Canevin goalie on his rear end after stopping the initial shot from up high, but somehow Daley squeezed the forward’s follow-up attempt beneath his arm to keep the Indians off the board. Unger made the save stand up four minutes later when he drove the net, following up a shot from the right side, and deposited the rebound to make it 4-1 Crusaders.
“Our goal was simply to get a lot of pucks to the net and play good defense, which we did,” said Unger, who now has six goals and leads the varsity squad with five power play tallies.
Michael Mansmann further cemented the win 49 seconds later when he forced a turnover in the neutral zone and beat a disgruntled Kumpfmiller with a wrist shot on a clean breakaway, his ninth goal of the season. A second-chance goal by DiSanti during a two-man advantage with 1:53 left and a post-game fight that was quickly broken up before the handshake line formed were the only things that marred an otherwise great finish by the home team.
It should be interesting to see if any of those emotions carry over when the two teams meet again next Wednesday for an outdoor contest on the Stage AE Community Rink next to Heinz Field.
“You always worry about the rematch, because the losing team has more motivation,” Zielmanski said.
For what it’s worth to the bench boss, a quiet but obviously confident Unger doesn’t seem too worried.
“[Tonight's game] is going to make us a lot better…knowing that we beat them means we can beat them again. We just have to play the same game.”
BY THE WAY:
*After going six straight without a goal–and managing just one assist in that span–King’s third of the season proved to be his second game-winner. Michael Mansmann is the only other Crusader with two game-winning goals.
*With his two assists Frank Vance took over Bishop Canevin’s team lead in points (22) from Matt Walsh. Vance has points in five straight, and his 13 helpers are tied for fifth in Class AA.
*The last time Kumpfmiller allowed five goals in a regular season game was a 6-5 overtime win over Latrobe on Jan. 14. It only happened three times last season, and the only time it had happened since was when the Wildcats beat the Indians 7-5 in the Penguins Cup Final.
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For continuing coverage of the PIHL and Penguins Cup Playoffs, be sure to check back with Mr. High School Sports throughout the 2010-11 season!