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 Boy’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.
“It was on the power play, we’ve been pretty hot on the power play,” Peacock said. “We were working it down low, I got a shot from the point off the rebound and it went in. I don’t really know how it went in, just found the back of the net.”
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 – knotting the score 1-1 – and Krohto struck again with 1:12 remaining in the period off an assist from senior Tyler Rego.
Senior Nicholas Moreau added Lincoln’s third goal at 8:19 in the third, with assists credited to junior Tyler Duquette and senior Jerzy Polak.
Prout’s chances of making a comeback appeared to be in serious trouble when senior Michael Reilly was sent to the penalty box soon after Moreau’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.
“I was going to argue about the call but now I like the call cause it worked out to our advantage,” Prout head coach John Gaffney said. “Deady’s strong with the puck, he can pull the puck out of the pile, he sticks his nose in there and that’s what he did.”
Despite the two goals from Krohto, Crusader freshman goalie Austin Gemma posted 25 saves and gave Gaffney the performance he expected.
“He’s not going to post a shut-out, we’re not asking him to post a shut-out,” Gaffney said, “but 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.”
Chris LeClaire, Gemma’s counterpart between the pipes, saved 30 overall and denied numerous second chances.
“[LeClaire] played phenomenal, he was giving out rebounds but he was backing them up,” Peacock said. “We 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.”
“There 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,” Gaffney said. “We just got to capitalize, first period we should have had a couple more goals. We had one goal in the first.
“We were in and around the net causing turn-overs, had two two-on-ones and didn’t really get the puck in the net.”