Norwood-Norfolk Central relayed a fast start into a 4-1 win over Franklin Academy while St. Lawrence Central needed overtime to turn back OFA 3-2 in the semi-finals of the Section 10 Division II hockey playoffs on Wednesday.
The top two seeds, who split their regular season meetings, will now get set to face-off against each other in the championship game for the second straight year this Sunday at Clarksons Cheel Arena starting at 1 p.m.
Both teams know each other pretty well. Like any other big game, its going to come down to the team that makes the fewer mistakes on Sunday, noted N-N coach Paul Durant as the top-seeded Icemen look to avenge last years loss to SLC in the title game.
N-N 4, FA 1: At the Dominic Zappia Arena, freshman forward Kaden Pickering provided the early spark for the Icemen when he struck for a pair of unassisted goals in the first five minutes of the game. He opened the scoring 1:10 into the game when he intercepted a pass and went in to score a shorthanded goal then made it 2-0 at the 5:03 mark by relaying a neutral zone turnover into a breakaway tally.
Junior Austin Cousineau netted the third N-N goal with 1:15 left in the first period assisted by Shane Cryderman and Zeb Brown. Cousineau pushed the Icemen lead to 4-0 midway through the second period assied by Brown and Tyler Fobare before the Huskies got on the board at the 11:58 mark when Tucker Bartenslager finished off a play set up by Kyler Head and Bailey Conklin.
Weve had a good season and were happy with the way the kids played again tonight, said Durant after his squad improved to 16-4 overall. As the number-one seed, we know weve got a target on our backs but Im sure the kids will be ready to play come Sunday.
Junior Brandon Richards turned aside 19 of the shots he faced backstopping the win while Joey Brown kept the Huskies (6-14-1) in range with a stellar 46-save effort.
SLC 3, OFA 2 (OT): At the Tri-Town Arena, the Larries got off to a fast start then survived some last scoring heroics by the Blue Devils (9-12) to earn a chance to defend their sectional crown.
We won our last game against Ogdensburg 7-0 then we came out and scored on our first shift tonight and went into a mode where we started to think that things were going to come easy for us. We knew coming into the game that Ogdensburg was a capable team and they showed up to play tonight, said coach Mickey Locke after the Larries improved to 14-6-1.
SLC opened the scoring just 33 seconds into the game when the Luke Peets one-timed a centering pass from the right wing by Lukas Arquiett into the back of the net on the first shot of the night. Kody Kocsis also logged an assist.
The lead held until late in the second period. While on the power play, the Larries were whistled for an icing. On the ensuing face-off from the right circle, the puck went right to Jared Barr poised alone in the slot. SLC netminder Nate Burnett made a sliding save with his right pad on Barrs first close range attempt but the puck bounced right back onto the eighth-graders stick and he made no mistake stuffing the rebound into the back of the net with 3:55 left in the second period. Andrew Roddy earned the lone assist on the equalizer.
The Larries regained the lead 11:18 into the third period. After controlling the puck deep in the OFA zone, Arquiett worked it back to Jacob Sutton at the point and he quickly slid across to eighth-grade blueline partner Drew Rose, who sent a shot toward goal through a screen and into the back of the net.
But the Blue Devils regrouped to tie the game with 1:14 left in regulation when a shot from the point by David Middlemiss led to a goalmouth scramble that ended with Jon Tayler knocking a loose puck across the goal line.
After trading chances in the early stages of overtime, the Larries ended the game at the 2:55 mark with a perfectly crafted transition goal.
Kocsis was able to slip behind the OFA defensemen and took a long feed from Arquiett just outside the Devils blueline and broke in alone on junior netminder David Prudhomme.
The junior forward, pulling his own version of a T.J. Oshier shootout move, said he decided to go with a deke move as he raced in on the breakaway. He drew the OFA netminder to his left and then flashed back to to the right and slipped the puck into the net for the winner.
Kocsis praised Arquiett for his skill in finding him with the pass and noted his line - rounded out by Luke Peets - has had great chemistry throughout the season.
Drew Rose started the play with a nice lead pass to Lukas Arquiett from our defensive zone. Lukas lobbed the puck above everyone and Kody was in full stride when he caught up to it, noted Locke. It was just a very pretty goal.
Both junior netminders had outstanding games with Burnett posting 29 saves and Prudhomme handling 31 of the shots he faced.
We had a couple of great goaltenders on the top of their games tonight and that made goals really hard to come by, said Locke.
Weve got tonight to enjoy this win but tomorrow, well go to work on getting ready to play a very good Norwood-Norfolk team on Sunday, he concluded.