All eyes were focused upon Lions center Scott McClintic during Saturday night’s contest against Rider at Loucks Ice Center on the campus of Lawrenceville Prep High School, where the Broncs defeated the Lions by a score of 6-to-4.
While a belligerent Rider University fan section rained down verbal attacks upon the Lions leader in points (43 in 14 games) with choruses of boos and drawn out taunts of “Scotty,” gangs of Broncs defenders, four at a time on a few occasions, attacked the centerpiece of the Lions offense, delivering painful rib shots and gut checks to the mid section of McClintic.
Despite Rider’s collective efforts, they could not keep McClintic from producing a four-point night with the two goals and two assists on a pair of markers by Elie Klein. Klein assisted on both of McClintic’s scores including a first period goal at 12:29 that tied the game at one, quieting the ruckus Rider uproar, and sending the College’s fans into frenzy.
Klein collected a long rebound and carried the puck out of the Lions zone. Looking up, Klein sent a long pass McClintic hitting the forward in stride. McClintic was met two defenders and proceeded to drag the puck past the first and carry it around another before being knocked off the puck by a third defenseman. Klein, following the play, picked up the loose puck by the right side boards and sent a drop pass to McClintic who had set himself up for a shot. McClintic ripped a one-timer through the goaltender’s stick side and a small celebration ensued.
“There’s nothing that can explain the feeling of scoring against Rider,” said McClintic. “It gets very emotional, and I think I was screaming just as loud as the fans were when I saw the puck hit the back of the net.”
The celebration was short lived as the offensive endeavors put forth by the Lions two premiere scoring threats were not enough to earn a victory over their rival Broncs.
Down 3-to-2 and slowly starting to pick up momentum, the Lions were on the power play and on the prowl at 7:14 in the second period.
McClintic collected a bouncing puck in the Rider zone, carried it forward, and fired a quick laser, beating the goaltenders glove. However, the shot rang off the post and deflected out to a Rider forward Nick Saviano who broke down the ice toward goaltender Justin Zegal. Lions defenseman Matt Asaro engaged the Rider skater but was beaten on a quick move to the outside. Once around Asaro, Saviano was able to slide the puck under Zegal and score a short-handed goal, putting the Lions down 4-2.
“It absolutely had a negative effect on our team,” said McClintic. “To be inches away from tying the game, and within only a few seconds, have the game swing to a two goal deficit is definitely a tough thing to swallow.”
A few moments later at 6:42, a power play goal by Klein off a feed from McClintic once again cut the Broncs lead to one.
The Broncs held a 4-to-3 lead over the College entering the third period and despite an extra few minutes of rest caused by a zamboni breakdown, the Lions looked beaten up and tired and could not keep up with the fresh legs of a Rider roster that heavily outnumbered the Lions.
“I have no regrets or issues about the way we played,” said McClintic. “Its always tough to lose against a rival, however we played very well and I think we need to stay proud about that and remain focused going forward.”