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Top-seeded Lincoln slipped past the No. 2 Prout 3-2 Thursday night at Brown Universities George V. Meehan Auditorium.
With a late flurry the Crusaders (15-5-0, 14-4-0 Division II Central) closed a 3-1 deficit, coming up just short against the Lions (19-0-1, 17-0-1 Division II North) as time ran out in game one of the Division II Boyâ€™s Ice Hockey Championship.
A physical first period remained scoreless until Prout senior Matthew Peacock knocked in a goal off of an assist from junior Nyle Sockbeson with 24.4 seconds to go.
â€śIt was on the power play, weâ€™ve been pretty hot on the power play,â€ť Peacock said. â€śWe were working it down low, I got a shot from the point off the rebound and it went in. I donâ€™t really know how it went in, just found the back of the net.â€ť
The second period, however, was all Lions.
Lincoln senior Ryan Krohto put the puck in at the 10:24 mark off of a pass from junior Robert Lake â€“ knotting the score 1-1 â€“ and Krohto struck again with 1:12 remaining in the period off an assist from senior Tyler Rego.
Senior Nicholas Moreau added Lincolnâ€™s third goal at 8:19 in the third, with assists credited to junior Tyler Duquette and senior Jerzy Polak.
Proutâ€™s chances of making a comeback appeared to be in serious trouble when senior Michael Reilly was sent to the penalty box soon after Moreauâ€™s goal but the Crusaders made the best of their situation.
Junior Aaron Deady flipped in a shorthanded goal off a pass from senior Matthew Filardo with 3:43 remaining to cut the deficit to one but could not find the equalizer despite a number of strong chances.
â€śI was going to argue about the call but now I like the call cause it worked out to our advantage,â€ť Prout head coach John Gaffney said. â€śDeadyâ€™s strong with the puck, he can pull the puck out of the pile, he sticks his nose in there and thatâ€™s what he did.â€ť
Despite the two goals from Krohto, Crusader freshman goalie Austin Gemma posted 25 saves and gave Gaffney the performance he expected.
â€śHeâ€™s not going to post a shut-out, weâ€™re not asking him to post a shut-out,â€ť Gaffney said, â€śbut if he gives up two goals, he gives up three goals, with the lineup we have we should be able to put a couple more in the net.â€ť
Chris LeClaire, Gemmaâ€™s counterpart between the pipes, saved 30 overall and denied numerous second chances.
â€ś[LeClaire] played phenomenal, he was giving out rebounds but he was backing them up,â€ť Peacock said. â€śWe had a couple of chances and I had a couple of shots but he was denying everything, not letting much into the back of the net.â€ť
â€śThere was a little bit of an unknown and now that unknown is not there anymore. First game being over with; we know what we got,â€ť Gaffney said. â€śWe just got to capitalize, first period we should have had a couple more goals. We had one goal in the first.
â€śWe were in and around the net causing turn-overs, had two two-on-ones and didnâ€™t really get the puck in the net.â€ť