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Celtics, Crusaders play to 1-1 rematch draw

By Curt Herron, 12/08/21, 9:15AM CST


ORLAND PARK -- When Providence Catholic and Brother Rice met up for the first time this season on November 4, the Celtics scored a goal in the third period to claim a 1-0 victory over the Crusaders in Oak Lawn and that became the lowest-scoring game of the season in Chicago Catholic Hockey League play, a distinction which that outcome still maintains.

On Sunday at Arctic Ice Arena in Orland Park, the two sides met again and while there were many more shots than in earlier meeting, there wasn't much of a difference in the score.

The Crusaders connected in the first period and the Celtics responded with a goal in the second period and that's how things remained through the third period and the four-minute overtime to result in a 1-1 draw, the first of the season in the league.

There's been four CCHL games where two or fewer goals were scored and Providence (8-5-1) has been in three of them, with the other being a 2-0 loss to Marmion Academy. 

This was the fifth time that a CCHL game went into overtime and all of the others were resolved in the extra period, including Brother Rice (4-2-1) getting a 3-2 win over Carmel to get off to a 3-0 start this season.

As in the teams' earlier meeting, the two goalies came up big. Crusaders senior Matt Cunningham and Celtics junior Andrew Pavich both performed very well, especially since they each faced situations where their teams were two men down and also saw stretches where they had one less man on the ice.

"It was a tough night," Pavich said. "It was a goalie game and both of the goalies played really well. We got a couple of breaks and they got a couple of breaks and it ended as a tie. The guys got the puck out when they needed to and did a really good job of clearing the zone and that helped me out a lot.

"We could have lost, but they kept us in it. They kept the shots pretty clear for me to see and kept it relatively easy at times when we were down a couple of men, so that was really nice.

"I like our camaraderie. It's come a long way since the beginning of the season and we've gotten a lot closer and I think that helps the team a lot."

Providence had won five of its last six games beginning with the teams' earlier meeting and has scored 21 of its 36 goals during the 5-1-1 stretch. Meanwhile, Brother Rice has gone 1-2-1 since its 3-0 start, when it collected 13 of its 19 goals.

"We lost to these guys earlier 1-0 and we've been biting our nails waiting to play these guys again," Cunningham said. "We had a really hard game and played mostly in their end. We never gave up and we didn't get the result that we wanted but we didn't lose. We have a lot of good chemistry and there's a lot of older guys on the team and we get along very well. We're good with the puck and very good offensively, even though we couldn't get the job done tonight. It's always a great attitude with the guys.

"In the man advantage, we always have to play hard and we got the puck out of the zone and we didn't face a lot of shots. But I think that we still have a lot of work to do on the man advantage, and when we come to work on Monday, we'll be working on that, for sure. I wish that I could get that goal back but I thought I played well enough. My job is always to give my team a chance to win and I thought I did my part today."

The Crusaders gained the early advantage when Jakub Potoczny put in a short shot following an assist from Sean Curtin at 4:03 of the first period. It was the second goal for Potoczny and sixth assist for Curtin in league play. The Celtics enjoyed  a two-man advantage late in the opening period but weren't able to capitalize on it.  

Providence got the equalizer at 7:21 of the second period when Zach Xydakis fired in an attempt from the side for his third goal in league play. Early in the final period, Brother Rice had a two-man advantage after a major penalty was assessed but it also wasn't able to take advantage of the opportunity.  

After having 15 shots apiece in the first two periods, the Celtics fired 22 attempts in the third period and then seven more in the overtime. The Crusaders got off 16, 19 and 17 shots through regulation play and four more in overtime.

In the final period, Providence got good attempts from Jameson Thulin, Declan Rabe, Bruno Handzel, Ray Ramirez, Vince Felice and Xydakis while some of Brother Rice's best attempts came from Cooper Wainwright, Brett Jones, Blake Meyer, Jack Keaty, Charlie McClorey and Potoczny.

In the overtime, Wainwright had a pair of the threatening shots for the Crusaders while Felice and Xydakis had two of the best scoring chances for the Celtics.

Some of the top scoring chances during the second period came from Emiliano Arana, Noah Oliver and Carson Burriss for the Celtics and from Connor Haggerty, Billy Gaskin and Jones for the Crusaders.

"Every time that we play these guys, it's always a super physical game," said Jones, who's a senior. "We have our physical guys and they have their physical guys, so they always go at it. We always try to get pucks on net, that was our game plan. Low shots, rebounds and crashing the net. We love a close game, we'd rather play a close game than a blowout game. And both goalies were outstanding tonight.

"I think that we all have awesome chemistry and we all hang out outside of hockey. We're all super close and we know where we're going to be on the ice when we're out there."

As a result of the tie, the Celtics are in second place in the CCHL standings with 17 points, which is one point behind leader Benet Academy, who is off to a 9-1 start. Saint Ignatius College Prep is in third place with 14 points and a 7-1 record. The Crusaders are seventh with nine points but have also played the fewest league games thus far.

"We don't score a lot of goals, we're young and small so some people can say that we're not winning a lot of battles in front of the opposing team's net, but for the last two months, we've had great goaltending and great play from our defensemen," Celtics coach Nick Iaciancio said. "So when you don't have it offensively, they keep you in games, like they did today. In the end, they (Brother Rice) put us in some bad spots with their play and we were able to hang on and at least scratch a point out of it, so we'll take that.

"We're clogging up the middle pretty good at keeping pucks to the outside so that's keeping the dangerous chances away. And then we're relying on our goalie to bail us out on those shifts where we're out there too long and stuck in our zone too long. We've had some growing pains, I think that's fair to say. We lose some physical battles because we're young and smaller. 

"But this is a tight group and they've improved leaps and bounds from August. They're out before every practice and are working on their shooting. We came off a two-week stretch where we played really well. We've seen a lot of maturity on the team as a whole and individually as far as their play, we just have to kind of stay on that trajectory and we're aiming for February and March. It's a good group so we just have to stick with it."

Brother Rice hosts Saint Ignatius on Thursday in Oak Lawn at 8 p.m. and hits the road for a Sunday 3 p.m. game against Marmion Academy at Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva.

Providence will be back at Arctic Ice Arena for two weekend games. It hosts Carmel Catholic on Friday at 8:30