POTSDAM - A short scoring burst went a long way toward carrying the St. Lawrence Central hockey team to the Section 10 Division II Hockey championship at Cheel Arena on Sunday.
Deadlocked at 1-1 with a determined Norwood-Norfolk squad through the first 29 minutes, the top-seeded NAC regular season champion Larries generated two goals in the final minute of the second period then put the game away with three more goals in the third en route to posting a convincing 6-1 decision over the Icemen.
I was pleased with the way we played defensively in the first period but I wasnt happy with our offense. We werent handling the puck very well and we werent playing our game, said coach Mickey Locke after the Larries advanced to the state tournament for the first time in four years. Once we started to get the puck deep and work our forecheck, we started to get some pressure in the second period.
The pressure eventually led to the decisive scoring outburst by sophomore Lukas Arquiett, who put the Larries ahead 2-1 with 48 seconds left in the middle frame when he fired home a loose puck from the top of the slot after a collision of players knocked N-N sophomore netminder Brandon Richards out of position. Sophomore Kody Kocsis drew the lone assist.
While Arquietts first goal held up as the game-winner, his second proved to be the back-breaker as wristed home a shot from the right face-off circle into the back of the net with just one-tenth of a second remaining. Seniors Blake Baldwin and Ian Lynch drew assists.
The game was tied 1-1 and we thought thats what the score would be going into the lockerroom for the second intermission. Giving up those two goals late just killed us, said coach Paul Durant, who guided the Icemen to a 12-9-2 record this winter. You could see our kids started to get down on themselves and St. Lawrence didnt let up in the third period.
Im proud of our kids though, he added. We werent expected to be here and we gave St. Lawrence a good game the first two periods. We lose some outstanding seniors but we have a lot of younger kids and hopefully we can come back strong again next year.
The Larries went ahead 4-1 when sophomore Nate Stickney netted a power play goal from Baldwin and senior Eric Lynch with 8:15 remaining. Ian Lynch struck for his second of the game just 20 seconds later from Arquiett then completed his hattrick when he converted on a lead pass from senior Jarek Crump with 3:17 left in regulation.
Ian Lynch opened the scoring assisted by Arquiett 8:47 into the game before senior Dan Fyckes pulled the Icemen even when he finished off a play set up by senior Troy Kovach and sophomore Brandon Cousineau just over two minutes later with the teams skating 4-on-4.
Senior Nate McLaughlin had 20 saves backstopping the win as the Larries, who captured the NAC Division II regular season banner earlier this month, improved to 16-5-1 with their third win in as many tries against the Icemen this winter. Richards turned aside 18 shots in the losing cause.
This is definitely something special, said Ian Lynch, who was a member of the practice squad as a freshman in 2010 when the Larries last won the sectional title and advanced to the New York State championships in Utica. We were a little nervous at the beginning of the game today but once we got going, we started to get our confidence. Luke getting those two goals late in the second period was very key for us.
I think we have a lot more experience on this team than we did when I was a freshman, he added. We have a strong group of seniors and our sophomores are strong too. We just want to keep it going for as long as we can.
The Larries will now get set to host Section 5 champion Webster Thomas on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Tri-Town Arena. The winner advances to the state semi-finals at the Utica Aud on Saturday, March 9.