No coach and no player likes to find too much comfort in a loss.
But Bishop Eustace ice hockey coach Mike Green and team captain Mark Constantine couldn't help but see the positives in Monday's 5-2 loss to Christian Brothers Academy.
The young Crusaders were in contention with a team that beat them by 9-1 on Dec. 2 until CBA scored an empty-net goal with 46 seconds remaining in the Gordon Conference game in Pennsauken.
"It's good for us to play such a high-caliber team so competitively," Green said. "Our goal right now is to arrive at the third period with an opportunity to win the game. Next, we have to find a way to win once we do that."
Constantine, a speedy senior wing who scored one goal and assisted on the other, said the Crusaders were much more competitive against CBA than in the Dec. 2 season opener.
"They really outplayed us the last time," Constantine said. "This is progress. The more we play together, the better we're getting as a team."
Ricky Hunt scored a goal, and goaltender David Wacker made 32 saves for Bishop Eustace (1-4).
Junior defenseman Joakim Ryan scored four goals for CBA (5-1), the No. 4 team in New Jersey, according to njpowerrankings.com.
CBA dominated play in the first period, generating a 17-3 advantage in shots. But Wacker, a sophomore, made 16 saves, and the Crusaders managed to tie the game on Hunt's power-play goal off assists from Constantine and Derrick Jester.
"It would have been easy to lose composure when you outshoot a team 17-3 and it's still 1-1," CBA coach Ryan Bogan said. "But our guys kept their heads."
CBA stretched its lead to 4-1 midway in the third period. But Constantine scored a pretty goal on a feed from Hunt with 2 minutes, 36 seconds remaining.
Down, 4-2, the Crusaders had a power play and pulled their goalie to create a 6-on-4 advantage. But Ryan gathered the puck in traffic and lifted a long shot that slid into an empty net for a score.
"We're seeing a lot of growth, Green said.
Christian Brothers 1 1 3 - 5
Bishop Eustace 1 0 1 - 2
Goals-CBA: Joakim Ryan 4, DJ Grogan. BE: Ricky Hunt, Mark Constantine.
Saves-Zach Dietrich, CBA, 11; David Wacker, BE, 32.