Syracuse, NY – In the early going of Monday night’s Section 3, Division II high school hockey championship game, it looked as though the Clinton Warriors were going to extend their winning streak to 10 games and roll into the NYSPHSAA Tournament as the Section III Champ.
The first period saw the Warriors forwards forechecking the Auburn Maroons into submission, which resulted in a goal by Mark Novak just 3 minutes and 54 seconds into the period, putting Clinton up 1-0. Couple that offensive fortitude with a period to remember from Warriors netminder Brian Saunders, who made 11 saves on 11 (quality) shots and the Warriors had plenty to be excited about.
Unfortunately for Clinton and the legion of fans who made the trip to Syracuse, the second period was nothing like the first.
United States Military Academy at West Point (lacrosse) recruit Jake Morin whistled a wrister past Saunders from just inside the Clinton blue line with 5:21 remaining in the second period to tie the game at 1-1 and just like the that, the momentum shifted for good.
Morin would add two more goals and the other half of the Maroons two dimensional offense, Johnny Malandruccolo, notched two goals of his own over the next period and a half to cap a 5-0 Auburn scoring run, resulting in a 5-1 win for Auburn and the Section III Championship.
Morin and Malandruccolo entered tonight’s contest with a combined 123 points for Auburn on the season.
While the incredible Clinton run may have ended just short of the intended goal, the Warriors can look back on this season and do nothing but smile. Considering Clinton began the season by winning just 2 of their first 9 games, a run to the Section III title had to seem like a fantasy midway through the season.
That’s when January 30th came along and the Warriors knocked off these same Auburn Maroons by a score of 5-4. Suddenly, a belief in each other and a belief in a system that Coach John Davignon was preaching all came together. Clinton rattled off 9 straight wins, didn’t lose a game in February until tonight and turned a season on the brink into one that they’ll never forget.
Congratulations to Auburn on a great win and best of luck in the State Tournament.
Hat’s off to Clinton (13-8-2) on turning what looked like a season to forget early on, into a season that made the entire community proud.
1 2 3 Total
Clinton 1 0 0 1
Auburn 0 2 3 5