WALL TOWNSHIP, NJ — Bergen Catholic donned their signature gold-plated helmets on Monday night with one thing in mind: making sure it wouldn’t be the last time they did.
After a hard-fought, scoreless first two periods in a hostile environment on the road, Bergen Catholic got the jolt it was looking for when Will Frassetto redirected what would be the only goal of the contest with 11:09 remaining in regulation as the 11th-seeded Crusaders pulled an upset of mammoth proportions in a 1-0 victory over third-seeded Christian Brothers Academy in the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Non-Public Tournament at Jersey Shore Arena in Wall.
The triumph marked the first time a team seeded outside the top four reached the state semifinals since the Oradell school replicated the performance in 2015 when it was seeded 10th. The 2019 11th-seeded Crusaders are the lowest Non-Public seed to advance to the semifinals since 12th-seeded Paramus Catholic made an appearance in 2013, per NJHockey.org.
The reward for pulling off such a feat is a date with second-seeded and defending state champion Delbarton on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. from Codey Arena in West Orange. Delbarton won their only previous meeting of the season, 6-0, back on Nov. 27.
The goal, which broke the deadlock 3:51 into the third period, was set up by Tommy Olsen and Tyler Ugliano.
“It was getting pretty chippy in front, and I couldn’t really see it but the puck ended up behind the net,” an ecstatic Frassetto said after connecting for the 21st time of his senior campaign, making sure the game would not be the last time he and his Bergen Catholic teammates would don their golden domes.
“My teammate Tommy Olsen got it and threw it out in front where I was waiting to beat the goalie five-hole.”
“I was screaming at the top of my lungs,” Bergen Catholic goalie Chris Branch said of the moment his team took the third-period advantage. “It was exciting to see that go in, and with ten minutes left I knew I knew I could hold it out and that the boys had it.”
With the victory, Bergen Catholic avenged a loss to CBA the opening week of the season when the Colts handed the Crusaders their third straight loss to open the season.
“We had a tough start to the season, but we said that the second half of the season was going to be ours and we made the adjustments that were needed to be made.” Bergen Catholic head coach Tom Keough said.
The tough, Gordon Conference schedule reaped havoc on Bergen Catholic. Despite failing to qualify for the Gordon Cup, the Crusaders are hitting their stride at just the right time. BC is now 6-0-1 in their last seven contests, including a perfect 3-0 start to their postseason run including a 10-0 win over 22-Frisch and a 3-2 stunner over sixth-seeded Pope John on Feb. 21.
“We had our chances,” Christian Brothers head coach Ryan Bogan said. “(Bergen Catholic) played well. Their goalie made some good saves. They had a couple chances and capitalized on one. We didn’t.”
Branch stood tall, turning aside all 25 shots he saw in between the pipes for Bergen Catholic. Jake Brown was nearly as perfect with 14 saves on 15 shots.
“We thought this would be our game before we even got here,” Keough said. “ We knew they wouldn’t respect us. Everyone in hockey, from the papers to the community weren’t respecting us so of course we came into today with a little grit.”
It has been the Bergen Catholic defense which has stolen the spotlight over their recent stretch. Since Jan. 28, the Crusaders have yielded only eight goals in seven games.
“We wanted to show everyone how we play,” Keough added. “A 1-0 shutout is a great complete game by our boys and we proved our point. We just stuck to following our system, not doing anything special. Everyone knew their role and everyone certainly did a great job of executing that today. We got pucks deep and were always making CBA go 200 feet.”
Written by Casey J. Krish / @CaseyKrish
Special to HockeyClan
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