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Massena boys cap unbeaten cap undefeated NAC Division I hockey season


MASSENA - The 2013-14 NAC Division I season bore the fruits of the Massena Central boys hockey team’s labor.

“This group has really worked hard and they’ve really pulled through through the ups and downs of the season to get to this point,” said coach Mike Trimboli after the Raiders successfully capped an undefeated NAC campaign by pulling away to an 8-1 win over Division I rival Canton Central at the Massena Arena on Tuesday.

“Our guys deserve a lot of credit. They worked to be the best they could be in all aspects of the game,” Trimboli added. “Now though, it’s a brand new season with the playoffs. We can’t just rest on what we’ve done so far. We have to reboot the machine and get ready to play at our best again.”

The Raiders finished at 12-0 atop the NAC Division I standings with the win over the Golden Bears (9-7-2, 7-2-2) and improved to 14-5-1 as they gear up for the Section 10 Division I playoffs starting on Saturday night when they play host to fourth-seeded Salmon River at the Massena Arena starting at 7 p.m. The Division I final is slated for Sunday, March 23, at Clarkson’s Cheel Arena.

Massena enters the sectional tournament as the defending champion.

“I’m sure Salmon River is going to give up their best effort on Saturday. We definitely can’t afford to take them lightly,” Trimboli noted.

In the win over Canton on Tuesday, the Raiders jumped out to an early lead and never looked back as senior Ryan Thomas has a career-night in his final regular season appearance at the Massena Arena. One of six seniors honored before the game, Thomas tallied four goals including the first goal just 2:30 after the opening face-off when he finished off a play set up by Evan Kassian and a strong forecheck by Zach Kozsan. Senior JP Reagan struck for the eventual game-winner at the 3:45 mark assisted by Bailey Hewlett.

Canton got on the board at 7:58 of the first period when senior Matt Mende’s centering pass across the slot deflected int the back of the net off a Massena player for a power play goal that drew assists from Tanner Sanderson and Mark Mahoney.

The Raiders countered with two goals by freshman Wyatt Wilmshurst before the end of the opening period, the first assisted by Patrick Manning and Jordan Robert at the 9:04 mark and the second set up by Maddox Merry and Josh Blair on the power play with 57 seconds remaining.

Massena went on to generate a pair of goals in both the second and third periods to put the game out of reach. Thomas scored his second of the game on the power play assisted by Robert and Manning at the 5:01 mark of the middle frame before Dylan Stone made it 6-1 just over four minutes later assisted by Ben Sprague and Tyler Young. Thomas the completed his four-goal effort in the final frame where he connect from Manning at the 1:05 mark and then from Reagan with 23 seconds left in regulation.

Senior Connor Paquin recorded 16 saves backstopping the win while Jake Facey handled 36 shots in the losing effort.

“We did what we needed to do tonight. We put together three solid periods of hockey and I thought we executed very well on our special teams,” Trimboli noted. “Now it’s a whole new season.”

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