By Josh Sutker ‘23

After a long regular season, the Crusaders earned the fourth seed in the end-of-the-year Kennedy Cup tournament. They matched up against the Fenwick Friars in the first round.

Senior Aiden O’Hara said, “We have to move the puck up the ice if we want to get ahead. As long as the puck stays out of our zone, we will be able to stay ahead.”

The hockey team split their season series with Fenwick 2-2, so it was a very even matchup.

Senior Matt Spell said, “We knew we were the better team even though we split. They were smaller and faster, but we were stronger and had way more grit.”

The first game of the three-game series was held last Saturday at Arctic Ice Arena in Orland Park. The Crusaders put up a good fight with goals from seniors Cooper Wainwright and Sean Moran, as well as a goal from sophomore Keegan Mackey. We couldn’t outlast the Friars in overtime and fell down in the series 0-1.

The next day, the team was back in Orland Park for game two. The Crusaders fell down 0-1 in the first period. Two back-to-back goals from Mackey and junior Jack Keaty put the Crusaders up 2-1 to end the quarter.

From then on, the Crusaders took control of the game. In the second period, Mackey scored his second goal of the game. The Friars were able to sneak a power play goal in with eight minutes left in the second quarter. We held the lead well into the third quarter when senior Sean Moran scored a short goal, putting the Crusaders up 4-2.

The Friars emptied their net, and the Crusaders were able to snipe two more goals in before the clock struck zero, finishing the game 6-2. The Crusaders were feeling very confident going into game three.

Senior Kevin Malone said, “After winning the second game, we were able to force game three. I knew that if it came down to a game three, we would be the favorites to win in our own arena.”

Game three was in Oak Lawn, giving the Crusader’s home ice advantage. A goal from freshman James Esposito put the Crusaders up 1-0 in the first quarter. The Friars scored their own goal in the second period but were quickly matched by a goal from Sean Moran.

Going into the final period of regulation with a lead, the Crusaders had their eyes on the prize. Their vision was impaired by a Fenwick goal. With the score tied as the clock struck zero, they headed into overtime.

Everyone was waiting for some action when suddenly senior Billy Gaskin broke away from the pack.

Gaskin was one-on-one with the goalie and made a quick move to put the puck in the back of the net, sending the Crusaders to the Kennedy Cup Semifinals. The arena went berserk and the team celebrated with the Crazies on the boards.

The Crusaders are set to face the top-seeded St. Ignatius in the second round.