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Carey brothers will always recall special season playing together at SLU

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CANTON — Early in the season, St. Lawrence University senior Jeremy Wick offered an honest observation about the Carey brothers.

“Sometimes it’s a bit confusing playing with them,” Wick, a senior winger and assistant captain said of teammates and at times linemates Greg and Matt Carey. “They both have the bubble-style face shields, and they almost look alike out there. But it’s a good problem to have.”

Indeed — as Greg, a senior, and Matt, a redshirt freshman, have striven to keep the opposition off-balance with their offensive skills — their first and last together at the collegiate level.

The pair will lead the Saints into the postseason as St. Lawrence will host Brown in an ECAC Hockey first-round playoff series, beginning tonight at 7 at Appleton Arena. The second game of the best-of-three series is Saturday, with the third game, if necessary, Sunday.

“It’s been an experience, I’ve never had the opportunity to play with him before,” Greg Carey said of Matt. “It’s been fun, we’ve played the most part together for the whole year. It’s been pretty special, the family is watching on the computer back home and are excited when they call us after games.”

The duo, who rank 1-2 in team scoring, is the latest of a long line of brother combinations to play at St. Lawrence, with the most recent George and Gunnar Hughes during the past two seasons and Canton natives Kyle and Sean Flanagan. Pat Raley and Matt Raley, were teammates in 2010-11.

“Offensively, there are very few guys that can match what they do offensively,” St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel said of the Carey brothers. “They’re special players.”

While Greg Carey leads the Saints in points (53), and both a career-high and nation-leading 38 assists, his younger brother has already made quite an impact in his first season by generating a team-leading 18 goals.

“It’s been good, it’s also had its ups and downs,” Matt Carey said. “It’s obviously been a great experience for me, I’ve been motivated to play well all year. It’s good to learn from him and the older players.”

“They both are very good and they both can shoot the puck a ton as well as make plays,” Carvel said. “Greg has been unfairly characterized as just simply a goal scorer and then he goes out and leads the country the assists. And with Matt, everybody thought he was just a play maker and he leads our team in goals.”

Greg Carey, a Hobey Baker Award candidate who was a finalist for the prestigious honor last season, has left his mark as one of the top forwards in program history. He stands fourth all-time in goals (81), fifth in points (181) and ninth in assists (100).

“I was expecting a different year than I had last year, obviously,” said Greg Carey, who recently wrapped up the ECAC Hockey scoring title for the second straight year — a first in St. Lawrence history. “Obviously losing George (Hughes) and Flanny, who were pretty integral to the team throughout my career here. ... I think I’ve to change a little bit, I’m playing more with the puck than I have in the past. ... I’m just trying to have fun with it with the games we have left here.”

The two brothers have been essentially inseparable on the ice for the Saints this season has they’ve played on the same line in all but two games with a variety of linemates.

“They’re both very gifted offensive players,” Carvel said. “And for us, they’re not easy to play with because they look for each other most of the time. So Chris Martin is a good complement to them because he’s a power forward, where he can get the puck to the net. He seems to be the one guy who complements them pretty well.”

Physically, Matt Carey at 6-foot-1, stands an inch taller than his older sibling and both are listed at 195 pounds.

While the older Carey of course is a winger, Matt Carey is a natural centerman, who has also played at left wing at the junior level, but he’s excelled as a center with the Saints.

“In the summer time, we’re on the ice together about 25 hours a week,” Matt Carey said. “The chemistry has always been there after playing one-on-one for so many years, so it’s been exciting to play with him.”

This season has yielded a different scoring dynamic for Greg Carey, who, after leading the nation in goals (28) and goals per game (0.74) and was tied for fourth in points (51) as a junior, now leads the country in assists as well as assists per game (1.12).

“They both are very good and they both can shoot the puck a ton as well as make plays,” Carvel said. “Greg has been unfairly characterized as just simply a goal scorer and then he goes out and leads the country the assists. And with Matt, everybody thought he was just a play maker and he leads our team in goals.”

Greg Carey also stands second in the country this season in points (53) and points per game (1.56).

“I never thought it was going to be like this and it’s been tough at times with pucks not going in,” Greg Carey said. “It’s different, but it’s fun all the same, Other guys are having success this year putting more pucks in then they normally would, so I’m just happy to help out.”

Matt Carey has burst onto the national scene; he is tied for second among freshmen in goals and points (34) and is tied for fourth in points per game (1.00).

“I think I’ve done pretty well,” Matt Carey said. “But I feel a little snake bitten right now, I can’t find the back of the net as much as I did in the beginning of the year. But the chances are there and sooner or later they’re going to go in.”

Added Carvel: “Matt’s very gifted offensively. But his skating without the puck hasn’t come along as far as I would like. ... But he works real hard and his positioning in the defensive zone has been better as the year has gone by.”

St. Lawrence will take on Brown for the second time in the postseason in four years. The Bears have forged a 1-0-1 edge against the Saints this season, including a 2-2 draw in Providence on Nov. 2 and a 5-3 victory in Canton on Jan. 17.

Sportswriter Chris Fitz Gerald covers St. Lawrence University hockey and can be reached at cfitzgerald@wdt.net

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