Sadly, none of the tens of fans were wearing hats on Saturday night in the Loucks Ice Center at Lawrenceville Prep High School when the College’s Scot McClintic sent a low riding wrist shot past the outstretched right leg of the Neuman College Knights goaltender capping off the forward’s hard earned three goal evening.
“I think it took Scotty a little while to get back into form this year but now he is really finding his stride,” said head coach Nick Cucci. “Saturday’s game was his best of the year. He was very good defensively and his shots were going where he wanted them. Most importantly he was playing energized and I think his play really helped to spark the bench.”
Late in the third period McClintic, the Lions leader in points with 29 (19 goals, 10 assists) through 11 games, received an outlet pass along the right side boards and carried the puck out of his own zone. Picking up speed across the center red line, McClintic faked inside and deeked back to the outside leaving the Knights defenseman that stepped up stumbling, confused, and unable to rejoin the play.
All alone in the opposing zone with only the goalkeeper left, McClintic continued to speed in. Just above the right face-off circle McClintic took one final hard stride before a flick of his wrist beat the goaltender to the weak side at 4:52, cutting the score to 4 to 3.
“Almost every game within the first 10 minutes I am being double teamed, and to be honest I love the challenge,” McClintic said. “Because nothing is more satisfying than having an opposing coach put two to three guys on you, and you score a hat trick nonetheless.”
Eventually stealing the puck from the bewildered Neuman defenseman, McClintic put a hard shot on net that was blockered away. When the Knights defenseman corralled the rebound, again, McClintic stole his errant pass. Observing the situation the Lions Mike Kaufer sailed into the offensive zone, joining McClintic on a 2-0 chance. The pair connected on give and go executed to perfection, Kaufer assisting on McClintic’s goal, putting The College up by a 1-0 margin.
The opening stanza would end with the Lions up by a goal.
The Knights stepped up their play in the second period. Lions’ goalkeeper Justin Zegal was bombarded by a barrage of shots from the point positions. Zegal thwarted several Neuman assault’s but at 14:11 the Knights finally broke through with a power play goal.
Toward the end of the second period fatigue set in and the Lions lack of man power, due to injuries to Elie Klein and Vinny LaRosa, caught up with them. The College allowed the Knights to set up in the offensive zone with ease and fall into their offensive rotation. Again Zegal stood strong but could not combat what he was unable to see. While Zegal was screened by a Neuman forward James Murphy snuck a weak wrist shot over the left shoulder of the blinded goalie at 5:56.
A few moments later, on a similar play, Murphy put another shot on net with traffic in front of Zegal. This time, however, the puck was deflected up and over the Lions goaltender by the Knights Michael Gonzalez.
“I am extremely proud of the way the guys competed Saturday night,” said Cucci. “They gave it everything they had for a full sixty minutes. It was our best effort of the year and our best game as well, wins included. It’s certainly something this team can build on because the effort was exceptional.”