Prout goalkeeper Austin Gemma played about as well as anyone could expect a freshman to in game two of Saturday’s best-of-three Division II Boys Ice Hockey Championship series between the Crusaders and Lincoln.
Unfortunately for Gemma and his Crusader teammates hockey – like most sports – can be fickle.
Prout outplayed the unbeaten Lions for the majority of Saturday’s game at Brown University’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.
“We definitely set our goals to come back [to the finals] this year,” Prout senior Matt Peacock said. “It 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.”
Prout scored with less than three minutes remaining in regulation to force the extra session but in overtime its season would end rather abruptly.
Lincoln’s Griffin Hevey flicked a backhanded shot towards the net just inside the Crusaders’ zone that settled on the ice as it slid towards Gemma.
The Prout goalkeeper – who was credited with 49 saves in the game – couldn’t get his stick down flat enough on the ice to stop the shot and the puck glided through Gemma’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.
“You just move on,” Prout coach John Gaffney said. “It is what it is. They played well, Lincoln did too and they’re a good club.
“I think luck was on their side. They hadn’t lost a game all year and they weren’t about to let it stop tonight.”
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
“We just kept crashing the net,” Peacock said. “We were doing it all game, just throwing pucks at them.”
The Crusaders could not keep the Lions caged in the third though as a costly turnover from Michael Reilly gave Lincoln’s Ryan Krohto the puck right in front of Prout’s net.
Gemma stood no chance against the Lion’s senior forward as he buried the puck into the top of the net over the freshman goalkeeper’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 Crusaders’ chances of keeping their season alive grew slim but then hope came courtesy of senior Justin Mateus.
“We didn’t really give up,” Mateus said. “We’re a good third period team so we knew we had a chance to get back into it.”
Brent Bazinet won a faceoff in the Lincoln zone and the puck settled at Mateus’ stick just outside the left circle.
Mateus had a moment to think about where to put the puck and the senior’s decision couldn’t have been any better, tucking the puck just inside the far post.
“I just tried to time it up,” Mateus said. “…I had no one open so I saw the far post open so I just threw it there.”
Unfortunately for Prout a third game in the series was not in the cards as Hevey’s goal sealed the Crusaders’ fate.