February 25 – Toms River, NJ – Senior Goalie Chris Branch played arguably his best game between the pipes for the Crusaders in the Non-Public State Quarterfinals vs. CBA on Monday. Minute-by-minute, more and more pressure was put on the experienced tender who turned away shot after shot and positioned himself well so that the Colts striving to make perfect shots, at times were just off the mark at just the right time. It seemed the state’s #3 team was going to be especially difficult to beat as they relentlessly attacked the goal. Rush after rush, they could not find the back of the net.
Things did not seem to improve for BC in the second period as the Colts continued to pour on the pressure. Then a funny thing happened. A flurry of shots and an incredible sequence of rapid-fire saves by Branch completely changed the momentum of the game. The Crusaders started rushing the goal. Antonio Arcaroli, Cam Monteverdi and Nick Chiurazzi were relentless attacking and were backed up by Tommy Kleinman, Jake Antonucci, Brenden Kelly and Buddy O’Donnell.
By the start of the third period, CBA did not have the same elastic in its legs and the Crusaders were riding the Colts hard. Just then Ryan Moloughney wrapped a feed around from the back right side of the goal to Will Frasetto who scored what would turn out to be the game-winning goal.
The next 10:32 seemed like an eternity. Every possession was critical. This was the last 10 minutes and 32 seconds of one senior group’s hockey career. Branch and company were committed to ensuring it wasn’t going to be the end of theirs. BC played inspired hockey, continuing to forecheck, attack and put pressure on the home Colts. With 2:02, CBA pulled their goalie. Now skating 6v5 for the remainder of the game, BC needed to play with even more determination. Play they did. Finish, they did! Final score: BC 1 – CBA 0.
Next game will be on Thursday, February 28 at 6:30 PM at the Codey Arena vs. the state’s #2 ranked team, Delbarton.