And once Friday finally rolled around, the Crusaders took care of business.
Bishop Eustace dismantled St. Augustine Prep 8-1 at the Flyers Skate Zone, its first win against its rival in over two years. For the Crusaders (3-1), getting revenge is an understatement.
"After losing the last five games to them, we wanted this win real bad," said Eustace captain Chris Gentile. "We worked extremely hard and finished the job."
"It's a big rivalry and it's always a different atmosphere," Mark Constantine said.
In front of a rowdy crowd with police officers on hand to help ease the tension, the Crusaders showed everyone why they are the No. 1 in the state by njpowerranking.com.
Constantine and his teammates fed off the energy of the crowd throughout. Eustace got off to a quick start, scoring three goals in the first period alone.
But to assistant coach and former Flyer Keith Primeau, that wasn't their best period.
"We were not pleased with how we played in the first period," he said. "Our kids knew they had to come out and play harder."
What Primeau and head coach Mike Green were pleased with was the play of the Gentile-Constantine-Jamie Hill line.
Each connected with a goal or an assist, putting an enormous amount of pressure on the Hermits goalies.
"We always play the best we can, and we all work really well with each other," said Hill, a junior.
"They are a very balanced attack. We rely on them every game," Primeau said.
Conall Guckin, Chris Tracy, Mike Durelli and Dylan Lamorte each scored. Goalie Nick Casella stopped 21 of 22 shots.
"Nick stepped up for us tonight," said Gentile. "He was real solid, and his confidence really showed."
St. Augustine third-year coach Tim Fingerhut said his team has a lot to work on, but isn't worried about the upcoming games.
"We have a very young team, including five freshmen in the lineup," said Fingerhut. "We need to work on keeping it simple."
The Hermits (1-3) lost 17 players, including 12 seniors to graduation.
"They are still getting familiar with the system and me as the coach," Fingerhut added. "We're still encouraged and we know what we have to improve on, and that includes focusing on the positives."
St. Augustine will get another crack at the Crusaders on Jan. 9 at the HollyDell Ice Arena.
"They now know how we play and they are definitely going to try and make a name for themselves next time they play us," Constantine said.
Reach Julie Shannon at (856) 486-2424 or firstname.lastname@example.org