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Massena skates to win over Islanders


POTSDAM — After frustrating losses in Section 10 Division I championship games the past two seasons, the Massena Central boys hockey team made sure there would be no three-peat on Monday night at Cheel Arena.

One of those Raiders players making a third straight appearance at Cheel was senior Connor Dix who scored the key goal of the night late in the second period and then set up the backbreaker early in the third as Massena skated to a 4-0 victory over the Islanders, comprised of players from Thousand Islands and Alex Bay.

Dix took a won faceoff by Zach Robert and buried a 15-footer into the low right corner for his team-leading 14th goal of the season with just 14.8 seconds left in the second period to give Massena a 2-0 lead. The senior forward then dug the puck out of the corner and set up Tyler Young for a nifty backhand goal at 2:10 of the third.

“We didn’t want to be known as the team that couldn’t get it done,” said Dix. “This team is closer than some in the past and tonight we moved the puck well and forechecked well.”

Raiders coach Mike Trimboli sent the hustling Dix out with a line he normally doesn’t skate with for that late second-period faceoff.

“Connor has great hands and after we won the faceoff, he got a great shot off. Then on the third goal, he did a lot of work to set that one up,” said Trimboli. “We’ve learned from our past here and this team has really come together.”

Massena (18-4) did not lose to a Section 10 team all season and will compete in the quarterfinals of the Division I state tournament this Saturday on the home ice of Section 2 champion Saratoga.

The Islanders (8-11), who were competing without head coach Joe Eppolito who had a previous committment, could only manage five shots on goal the entire game, including just one in the second period and just one in the third. Meanwhile, the Raiders fired 23 at goalie Andrew Swords.

“They took us right out of game offensively,” said Islanders assistant coach Chris Marshall. “Credit Massena, they just shut us down. Our plan was to get pucks to the net, but we couldn’t do it.”

Tyler Lashomb scored the lone goal of the first period as he moved in on a two-on-one break with Ryan Chauvin and beat Swords high on the glove side at the 10:52 mark.

Up 3-0 in the third period, Massena put the game out of reach at the 7:58 mark when senior defenseman Cullen Baines swooped down the middle of the ice uncontested and lifted a 20-footer past Swords.

“It’s definitely big to get this after what happended here the last two years,” said Baines who also was on both teams which fell to Potsdam in the finals the last two years. “It would have been nice to beat Potsdam on what is almost their home ice, but we’ll take this.”

Connor Paquin was called upon to make just five saves in securing the shutout, but that included a breakaway denial of Justin Ward early in the second period.

Said Trimboli: “We worked on our defensive zone coverage all year and tonight our depth and our persistence also paid off.”

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