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Massena, St. Lawrence Central set for state semifinals

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The St. Lawrence Central and Massena hockey teams both have something to prove as they prepare to play this afternoon in the state semifinals at the Memorial Auditorium in Utica.

St. Lawrence (17-4-1) is ranked No. 1 in the state according to the latest sportswriters poll and hasn’t won a state title since 1982 when it won its first one.

“It’s a nice feather in our cap to be ranked number one but our objective is to be number one after Sunday,” said veteran SLC coach Mickey Locke.

Massena (15-6-1) last won a state championship in 2008, but this is new territory for the current Red Raiders under fourth-year head coach Mike Trimboli.

St. Lawrence gets started first with a noon Division II game against Section 1 champion John Jay-Cross River.

Massena plays at 5 p.m. against Section 5’s McQuaid Jesuit.

St. Lawrence vs. John Jay-Cross River

The Larries have put together a banner season so far in Locke’s 30th year behind the bench, the majority of those years assisted by Randy Roy. They captured the NAC Division II regular season banner before going on to claim the Section 10 title for the first time since 2010 with a convincing win over Norwood-Norfolk in the Division II final.

The Larries followed that up with a 3-1 win over Section 5 champion Webster Thomas in the first round of the state tournament last Saturday at the Tri-Town Arena to earn their bid to the semifinals. In 2010, St. Lawrence made it past the first round of states before falling to Queensbury in the semifinal in Utica.

“It’s definitely a little more than just another game,” Locke said. “They are going to be a formidable opponent. We’ve had a great week of practice and we’ve been telling the kids to concentrate on doing the things that they’ve been doing all season to get to this point.”

The core members of this year’s team played limited roles as freshmen on the 2009-10 squad, but they have stepped up to lead the Larries’ hopes this winter. Senior forwards Ian Lynch (20 goals-19 assists-39 points) and Blake Baldwin (8-18-26) are third and fourth, respectively, on the team in scoring, while Eric Lynch (2-10-12) has been a versatile anchor on the blueline.

The Larries have received outstanding leadership from a talented crop of underclassmen. Sophomore Lukas Arquiett leads the team in scoring with 21 goals and 25 assists for 46 points while junior Kody Kocsis has tallied another 39 points on 20 goals and 19 assists. Senior Devon Euto (7-17-24) and sophomore Nathan Stickney (12-6-18) have also been leading contributors.

The Larries defensive corps took a big hit when senior Parker Meashaw was lost for the season to an injury but senior Jarek Crump, sophomore Joe DiMatteo and freshman Jake Sutton have combined with Eric Lynch to be one of the team’s strengths along with the play of senior goalie Nate McLaughlin (2.36 goals against, .905 save percentage).

John Jay enters the game at 22-1-1 as the second-ranked team in the state. The team outscored Rye 5-1 in the Section 1 final before skating to a 4-2 win on the road over Section 2 champion Queensbury in their state tournament opener.

Shawn Smith leads a potent John Jay offense with 48 points on 36 goals and 12 assists. Frazier Bostwick has 40 points (23-17), followed by Jack Grimm (16-9-25) and Mark Laprine (9-15-24). Six other players have generated 13 points or more while Matt Lanza had posted a 1.57 goals against average and .923 save percentage handling the bulk of the goaltending duties.

The state Division II final is scheduled for Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

MASSENA VS. MCQUAID JESUIT

Massena is looking to apply a familiar formula to a new environment in the semifinals.

“This is a new experience for everyone. It’s going to be a completely different atmosphere than what we’re use to but we have to try to treat this like any other game,” said coach Mike Trimboli. “We’ve watched videos of them with the kids and we’ve been able to break some things down.”

The Raiders are ranked third in the latest state sportswriters Division I poll. The earned their third trip to the state tournament under Trimboli with a dramatic 3-2 overtime win over NAC regular season champion Potsdam in the Section 10 final. They followed that up with a hard-fought 3-1 state quarterfinal round win at home over Monroe-Woodbury of Section 9 last Saturday night.

The senior core of captain Zach Robert, assistant captain Jordan Hart, Grayson Phillips, Anthony Cortese, Brantley Adams, Ian Wilson and Tyler Simms has provided outstanding leadership throughout the season but the Raiders have come to rely on a strong group of upperclassmen this winter.

Junior Tyler Young leads the team in scoring with 13 goals and 13 assists for 26 points, followed by Robert with 22 points on six goals and 16 assists, Phillips (7-9-16), Cortese (8-8-16), freshman Patrick Manning (5-6-11), who netted the game-winning goal in overtime in the Section 10 final, sophomore Dalton Mullin (3-5-8) and Adams (3-5-8).

“We had some key injuries on defense and we thought they would be a minus,” Trimboli said. “We had to rely on some of the younger kids and they’ve really stepped up.”

McQuaid (17-5-1) is ranked second in the state. They are led offensively by forward Michael Capicotto (21-15-36), blueliner Jared Tallo (11-13-24) and forward Michael Campbell (11-10-21).

The Division I championship game is slated for 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

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