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College hockey: St. Lawrence’s younger Carey shows versatility

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CANTON — Matt Carey came to St. Lawrence University with the reputation as a playmaker.

That still holds true, yet the redshirt freshman has emerged as a bonafide goal-scoring threat in his first hockey season with the Saints.

He’s adapted to the college level so well that Carey, a center, leads St. Lawrence in goals with 13, just one ahead of senior and older brother Greg Carey, who led the team in goals last campaign.

Matt Carey, who ranks second in points (24) behind Greg Carey’s nation-leading 35 points (12 goals-23 assists), has continued his rise to national prominence to join his older brother.

“So far I love the opportunity that I’ve been given,” said Matt Carey, who was selected as ECAC Hockey’s rookie of the week, the second time he’s received this honor in the course of five weeks. “I’ve been given a great opportunity to play with Greg and like I’ve said before, it’s like a dream come true to play on your brother’s line at a level like this.”

The younger Carey is tied for the lead nationally in freshman goal-scoring, leads the country in points per game among rookies (1.33), and is second in points among first-year players.

“We were expecting a lot from Matt, but I don’t think this much,” St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel said. “ ... It seemed like everybody wanted to characterize Matt as a just a playmaker, but he leads our team in goals and is a very gifted offensive player.”

Matt Carey has played on St. Lawrence’s top line with his older brother all season, marking the first time the siblings have played together on a competitive level.

“He’s having a terrific start,” Greg Carey said of his brother, who was academically ineligible last season. “I think going into the year after being ineligible to play, he came in with a focus and a drive to want to make an impact right away. It’s really tough to sit in the stands and watch your friends and teammates play for an entire season. I think he’s done a heck of job for us during this first stretch.”

Greg Carey also leads the nation in points per game (1.94), assists (23) and assists per game (1.28) — and is tied for fifth in goals scored.

The Saints (8-8-2), who have lost their past three games — all in one-goal decisions — will try to get back on track in a nonconference game at the University of Vermont (7-5-1) at 7:05 tonight in the Saints’ final game before the new year.

Matt Carey’s uniform number is No. 16, which was worn for the previous four seasons by Canton native Kyle Flanagan, also a center who is one of St. Lawrence’s top playmakers all time.

“He’s a different player,” Carvel said of Matt Carey. “Kyle was much more of puck possession and puck control kind of player where he could kind of slow the game down. Where Matt plays at a high pace and does things at a high pace. He’s very hard to contain because he can do things with the puck at high speeds, which is tough to defend. And he has a very good shot, ehich I think is underrated.”

The two Careys are at the heart of one of the nation’s most potent offenses, as the Saints came into Friday night ranked fourth in the nation in scoring (3.78 goals a game) and continue to lead in power-play goals (27) and efficiency (30 percent).

“It was unfortunate that he couldn’t play for us last year,” Carvel said of Matt Carey. “But he’s a 21-year-old freshman, so because of that, we were expecting him to come in and be effective. But again, I don’t think anybody could have imagined he would have the numbers that he has at this point.”

The younger Carey and teammate Jeremy Wick lead the way on special teams with seven power-play goal each — and both are tied for second nationally in the category.

“In my second year of juniors, I was more of a playmaker because that was my role,” said Matt Carey, who recorded five points, including four goals, in two games against Clarkson last week. “But in my last year of juniors, I kind of decided I needed to score a lot more, so I worked on my shot.”

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