BRASHER FALLS - After opening with a disappointing loss to OFA, the 2012-13 NAC season took a decided turn for the better for the St. Lawrence Central boys hockey team on Wednesday.
Massena had the edge early but I thought we played really well tonight, said coach Mickey Locke after the Larries knocked off the visiting Raiders 3-2 at the Tri-Town Arena. Our forwards did a good job of putting pressure on the Massena defense. Nate McLaughlin did a great job in goal and we took advantage of our chances.
Hopefully, we can keep the momentum of this win going, he added.
Despite being outshot and outplayed for more of the first period, the Larries broke through for the only goal with 1:34 left when Nate Stickney completed a textbook defensive zone breakout by taking a crossing pass at the Massena blueline from Blake Baldwin then skating toward goal from the left wing and beating netminder Connor Paquin on the short side with a rising wristshot from close range. Devin Euto also drew an assist for the lead pass out of the defensive zone that triggered the goal.
The Raiders pulled even just 1:49 into the second period when Tyler Simms took a lead pass from Ryan Moffitt and wristed a shot into the top of the net past McLaughlin. But while the equalizer was being announced, sophomore Lukas Arquiett put the Larries back on top when he finished off a play set up by Ian Lynch and Eric Lynch just 20 seconds later.
Arquiett then made it 3-1 when his low shot from the point found its way through a scramble and into the back of the net for a power play goal with 1:00 left in the middle frame. Euto earned his second assist of the game on the eventual game-winner along with Kody Kocsis.
Getting the second goal as fast as we did after Massena tied the game was big but theres a big difference between going into a period up 3-1 and going into a period up 2-1, Locke noted.
The Raiders cut the deficit to 3-2 when Patrick Manning scored a shorthanded goal on a centering pass from Zach Robert at the 2:25 mark of the third period but the Larries tightened up defensively en route to sealing their first win over Massena since 2004.
McLaughlin finished with 23 saves backstopping the victory while Paquin posted 21 stops for the Raiders.
We showed a lot of character tonight, Locke concluded.
The Larries (2-2, 1-1) return to action this weekend as hosts of their annual Holiday Tournament starting on Friday against The Islanders at 6 p.m. They face Norwood-Norfolk on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. Both tournament games for SLC will also serve as NAC Division II matchups. N-N and Saranac Central square off in the other first round game Friday at 8:15 p.m. The Islanders and Saranac face each other Saturday at noon. Massena (4-3, 2-1) will look to bounce back from its first NAC loss on Saturday on the road against Division I rival Potsdam Central at Pine Street Arena starting at 1 p.m.
Salmon River 3, Franklin Academy 3 (OT): In the lone other NAC boys hockey game played on Wednesday, the host Shamrocks twice overcame one-goal deficits in settling for the tie with the Huskies at Tom Cavanaugh Arena.
Neither team lit the lamp during the opening 15 minutes of play, before the ebb-and-flow of the battle switched midway through the period with the Huskies catching their second wind and taking their turn at controlling the game. But both goalies, FAs Joey Brown and SRCs Dennis Bero, stood tall between the pipes and maintained the scoreless tilt. The Huskies struck first, 54 seconds into the middle period with Cameron Daniels putting home his own rebound on the short side of Bero. Jake Henning was credited with an assist on the play, as he carried the puck into the Shamrock zone and fed Daniels on his way to the net.
The Shamrocks finally solved the FA goalie with 2:06 left in the period as Kyle Green took a pass from Laffin on a 3-on-2 break. Green was wide open on the left wing as the FA defense collapsed on the two Salmon River players racing up the right side. Brown made the initial stop on Greens shot, but the momentum from the shot carried it over the goalies blocker. As time wound down in the middle stanza, it looked as if the two squads would go to the locker rooms tied, but a late 2-on-1 break by the Shamrocks caught the Huskies pinching in the SRC zone. Crisp passing by the Shamrocks had Brown moving in his crease with Jarid Gray lifting a backhander over Browns shoulder to put the hosts up 2-1 at the end of the second period. But the Huskies pulled even at the 4:12 mark of the third period when Tyler Studlack connected from Daniels then retook the lead with just 2:00 left in regulation when Bailey Conklin finished off a play set up by Studlack and Daniels only to have the Shamrocks regroup to send the game into overtime after Kyle Lewis connected off an assist from Laffin with only 29 seconds left.
Bero finished with 20 saves for the Shamrocks and Joey Brown stopped 25 shots for the Huskies (4-0-1, 3-0-1).
Salmon River (1-4-1, 0-1-1) will be right back on the ice this evening at home against OFA starting at 6:30 p.m.