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SLC gains NAC Division II hockey lead with tie at OFA

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OGDENSBURG - For the second game in two days, OFA will be looking for a win to clinch a Northern Athletic Conference Hockey division title as the Blue Devils visit Potsdam for a 5 p.m. makeup start.

And the Blue Devils, who tied St. Lawrence Central 3-3 in their Senior Night game at the Golden Dome on Monday, won’t be alone.

As OFA looks for a victory to clinch the NAC’s Division II Championship Potsdam will be looking for a victory to clinch the Division I crown. The possibility of matching co-championships was also created in Monday’s tie which left 10-3-1 St. Lawrence Central (14-5-1) with 21 points and 9-2-2 OFA (10-5-4) with 20 points.

Potsdam (9-2-0 18 points) can vault past Massena (9-2-1 19 points) in the final D1 standings with a victory and tie the Raiders on top if a draw ensues.

“Its going to be a very tough game tomorrow,” said OFA Coach Jon Frederick as his team looks to go unbeaten against Division I foes this season where they beat Massena and Salmon River and tied Canton. “But I certainly liked the character we showed tonight. We started slowly and fell behind 2-0 but we fought back very hard.”

Mickey Locke felt the same way about his Larries who regrouped after allowing three straight OFA goals to capitalize on the opportunity of pulling their goalie on a power play and tying the game at 3-3 while skating 6-4 with 10 seconds remaining in regulation.

“We wanted to get off to a fast start and we spent a lot of energy on our forecheck to establish our offense. We scored twice but we had the opportunity to score a couple of other times in the first period. We didn’t convert and OFA is a very good team and they came right back,” said Locke.

“We had to very cognizant of where Brandon Mullin was and in the first period we did a great job at it. But he got going late in the second period and in the third period,” he added.

Monday’s game featured two of the NAC’s top offensive threats in OFA’s Mullin (20 goals, 9 assists) and SLC’s Luke Arquiett (18 goals, 21 assists) and two of the best netminders in the goaltending rich NAC in OFA’s Dave Prudhomme and SLC’s Nate McLaughlin.

All four were major factors.

Arquiett picked up a goal and an assist leading SLC to a 2-0 first period lead and Mullin set up OFA’s tying goal at 2-2 and scored a go-ahead goal 3-2 in the first four minutes of the third period.

Prudhome stopped 36 shots in the Devils crease with 14 in the third period and McLaughlin handled 34 saves with 15 in the second period.

The Larries converted their last chance pulling their goalie when OFA was called for penalty with 29 seconds to play. Kody Kocsis controlled in the puck in a wild sequence and cooly skated in close and lifted a backhand shot through a crowd of players and just under the cross with 10 seconds remaining.

“Luke Arquiett won the faceoff which meant everything and then we showed great patience to score after we had a two passes in front of the net,” said Locke of the dramatic equalizer which was set up by Devin Euto’s second assist of the game and by Blake Baldwin, who scored SLC’s second goal.

SLC opened the scoring at 5:18 of the first period when Arquiett controlled a lead pass from Ian Lynch and sniped a shot off the left goalpost and into the net. Baldwin converted a power play goal directly in front of net for 2-0 from Euto and Arquiett at 10:43.

The only goal of the second period saw OFA’s Jon Tayler carry puck upice and score unassisted with a wrist shot into the lower lefthand corner of the goal at 10:44.

Mullin’s defensive diligent and reach led to OFA goals at 0:43 and 3:59 of the third period. On the first, he forced a turnover at midice, carried the puck behind the SLC net and passed it to the point to Burke Comeau who ripped a slap shot which Jared Barr redirected in to the net. OFA’s only lead came when Mullin stole the puck in the attacking zone, circled behind the net and made quick move out front and stuffed a backhander past McLaughlin.

The Larries will now get set to host a Section 10 Division II tournament semi-final round game on Friday at the Tri-Town Arena starting at 7 p.m.

Islanders 6, Tupper Lake: In the lone other NAC hockey action on Monday, the Islanders skated to a 6-1 Division II win over Tupper Lake. Sean Shepard led the winning offense with a goal and two assists. Cam Morgan and Evan Dier each fashioned a goal and assist while Christopher Strough turned aside 13 shots backstopping the win.

Hudson Sparks broke through for the lone Tupper Lake goal while Tyler Nilsson made 34 saves working the crease in the losing cause.




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