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Prout goalkeeper Austin Gemma played about as well as anyone could expect a freshman to in game two of Saturdayâ€™s best-of-three Division II Boys Ice Hockey Championship series between the Crusaders and Lincoln.
Unfortunately for Gemma and his Crusader teammates hockey â€“ like most sports â€“ can be fickle.
Prout outplayed the unbeaten Lions for the majority of Saturdayâ€™s game at Brown Universityâ€™s Meehan Auditorium but the effort went in vain as Lincoln emerged with a 3-2 victory in overtime to complete the sweep of the Crusaders.
â€śWe definitely set our goals to come back [to the finals] this year,â€ť Prout senior Matt Peacock said. â€śIt was a long season, a tough journey, we faced a lot of adversity but we got here with the group of guys that we had.â€ť
Prout scored with less than three minutes remaining in regulation to force the extra session but in overtime its season would end rather abruptly.
Lincolnâ€™s Griffin Hevey flicked a backhanded shot towards the net just inside the Crusadersâ€™ zone that settled on the ice as it slid towards Gemma.
The Prout goalkeeper â€“ who was credited with 49 saves in the game â€“ couldnâ€™t get his stick down flat enough on the ice to stop the shot and the puck glided through Gemmaâ€™s legs and into the back of the net.
For Gemma it was a tough finish to what was otherwise a very good game as he kept Lincoln off the board for the first two periods.
â€śYou just move on,â€ť Prout coach John Gaffney said. â€śIt is what it is. They played well, Lincoln did too and theyâ€™re a good club.
â€śI think luck was on their side. They hadnâ€™t lost a game all year and they werenâ€™t about to let it stop tonight.â€ť
As it did in game one, Prout struck first Saturday taking a 1-0 lead into the third period after Aaron Deady cleaned up a James Neri shot with 2:10 remaining in the
â€śWe just kept crashing the net,â€ť Peacock said. â€śWe were doing it all game, just throwing pucks at them.â€ť
The Crusaders could not keep the Lions caged in the third though as a costly turnover from Michael Reilly gave Lincolnâ€™s Ryan Krohto the puck right in front of Proutâ€™s net.
Gemma stood no chance against the Lionâ€™s senior forward as he buried the puck into the top of the net over the freshman goalkeeperâ€™s left shoulder with 10:59 remaining in the game.
Less than four minutes later Lincoln took its first lead on the power play as senior Jerzy Polak put home a rebound on the weak side with 7:06 left to play.
As time ticked away the Crusadersâ€™ chances of keeping their season alive grew slim but then hope came courtesy of senior Justin Mateus.
â€śWe didnâ€™t really give up,â€ť Mateus said. â€śWeâ€™re a good third period team so we knew we had a chance to get back into it.â€ť
Brent Bazinet won a faceoff in the Lincoln zone and the puck settled at Mateusâ€™ stick just outside the left circle.
Mateus had a moment to think about where to put the puck and the seniorâ€™s decision couldnâ€™t have been any better, tucking the puck just inside the far post.
â€śI just tried to time it up,â€ť Mateus said. â€śâ€¦I had no one open so I saw the far post open so I just threw it there.â€ť
Unfortunately for Prout a third game in the series was not in the cards as Heveyâ€™s goal sealed the Crusadersâ€™ fate.