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Raiders, Larries out in states

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UTICA — Massena and St. Lawrence Central came to the state semifinals at the Memorial Auditorium with solid game plans. But the execution came up short Saturday as each team lost a bid to advance to the final.

Massena’s physical approach couldn’t hold back Section 5 champion McQuaid Jesuit, which won 5-1 in the Division I semifinals. St. Lawrence powered to a three-goal lead in the Division II semifinals against John Jay-Cross River, but proceeded to give up four straight and fall 6-4.

McQuaid moves on to play Section 2 champion Saratoga in the Division I final. John Jay-Cross River will face Section 3’s Syracuse CBA-Jamesville DeWitt in the Division II title game.

MCQUAID JESUIT 5, MASSENA 1

McQuaid’s outstanding team speed eventually outlasted Massena’s physical plan as the Knights broke open a scoreless game and then pulled away in the third period.

“They are a very good team. They play fast, efficient hockey and we knew we’d have our hands full today,” said Massena coach Mike Trimboli, who guided the Raiders to their first trip to Utica since they won the state title in 2008.

Ryan Tallo scored a pair of goals for McQuaid (19-5-1), including the game-winning shot 13 minutes, 54 seconds into the second period.

Ben Koppiel, Jack Dugan and Nate Pennington also scored for the Knights.

“We’ve been able to play four lines all year and all four lines have produced for us,” said McQuaid coach Al Vyverberg. “I thought that made a big difference in the third period. We seemed to have more fresh legs than Massena did.”

Massena scored the first goal of the game after a scoreless first period.

Just 2:39 into the second period, freshman Patrick Manning forechecked the puck away from a McQuaid defender in the right corner and slid it back up the wing to sophomore linemate Dalton Mullin, who quickly sent a pass across the slot to classmate Ryan Moffitt, who made no mistake one-timing it into the back of the net from the left side of the crease.

“Giving up that first goal actually motivated us even more,” said Vyverberg as the Knights kept the Raiders from gaining any further momentum then turned the game in their favor with a pair of goals in the final four minutes of the middle frame.

Ben Koppiel tied the game at 11:17 with a breakaway goal set up when the puck was knocked away from teammate Christian Leonardi. The eventual game-winning goal came at the 13:54 mark when back-to-back close range saves by junior goalie Connor Paquin triggered a wild scramble on the left side of the crease that ended with Ryan Tallo stuffing home a rebound.

The Knights went ahead 3-1 in the third when Jack Dugan snapped a wrist shot into the top left of the goal at the 5:02 mark. Four minutes later, Tallo one-timed a pass across the top of the slot from the right into the upper right corner. Nate Pennington sealed the win when he netted a power play goal with 3:51 left in regulation.

The Raiders (15-7-1) generated a pair of good scoring opportunities in the third but were unable to produce the equalizer as McQuaid goalie Brian Quick neatly turned aside a deflection attempt by Moffitt at the top of the slot and calmly stuff Moffitt on a breakaway down the left wing.

“Nobody expected us to go as far as we did this season and I thought we played well the first half of the game,” Trimboli said As the game wore on though, we weren’t able to get any sustained pressure in the offensive zone and once we fell behind, we started to lose our composure.”

JOHN JAY-CROSS RIVER 6, ST. LAWRENCE 4

An overwhelming finish eclipsed an impressive start for St. Lawrence Central.

After netting three unanswered goals in the first period en route to building a 4-1 lead, the Larries surrendered five goals over the final 7:38 of regulation in dropping a decision to Section 1 champion John Jay-Cross River in the semifinals.

“We had a great start and it really didn’t feel like we were running out of gas. I think it was more of a case where they started to get their momentum and once they got going, we weren’t able to get back on track,” said SLC coach Mickey Locke after his team fell short of it’s bid to end a 31-year state championship drought.

“We can’t help but be disappointed at this point but our kids showed they have hearts the size of Secretariat’s all season and they showed it again today. We loss to a very talented, very skilled team.”

The Larries entered the game as the top-ranked team in the state and surged their way to a 3-0 lead. They broke through for the first goal at the 6:23 mark when a hard wrist shot from the left point by Jarek Crump found its way through a scramble for a power play goal. Kody Kocsis drew the first of his three assists.

The Larries (17-6-1) doubled their lead just over a minute later when sophomore Luke Arquiett skated into a loose puck at the top of the slot and pumped a shot into the top left of the goal. Arquiett made it 3-0 with 28 seconds left in the first period.

John Jay broke through for its first goal at 11:08 of the second when Jack Grimm managed to stuff home a rebound from the left side of the crease but the Larries quickly regained the momentum after Blake Baldwin converted on a short centering pass from linemate Devon Euto just 25 seconds later and the Larries went into the second intermission leading 4-1.

They held their three-goal lead until Shawn Smith finished off a play set up by Mark Leprine and Mark Stanza for a power play goal at the 7:22 mark of the third. Eleven seconds later, a defensive zone turnover led to a goal by John Tobin that cut the deficit to 4-3.

“Even after we gave up the second goal, I thought we were still in pretty good shape,” Locke said. “If we could have gotten a couple of more shifts, we would have been alright but they came right back and got that third goal.”

John Jay (23-1-1) continued to keep the momentum going with 1:48 left in regulation when Lucas Prestamo knocked home the rebound of a shot from the left point by Anthony Scaperotti. Grimm completed the comeback when he scored with 59 seconds remaining. Smith then sealed the win with an unassisted empty-net goal 54 seconds later.

“Wow,” said John Jay coach Alex Smith after his squad earned its first-ever chance to play for a state hockey title. “I’ve been around hockey for some 35 years and I’ve never seen a third period like that in my life. It was like someone picked up the rink and tipped it our way for the last seven minutes of the game.”

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