John Jay’s Jack Grimm (10) celebrates his goal during a semifinal game of the state division 2 hockey tournament with St. Lawrence in Utica March 9, 2013. John Jay won 6-4. ( Peter Carr / The Journal News ) To view a gallery of photos from the game, click here.
UTICA — Heads were no doubt nodding in agreement while John Jay sat in the locker room after the second period talking about beating the odds and coming back from a sizeable deficit.
The question is, did anyone believe it could really happen?
Reality was about to set in when the rejuvenated Indians netted five goals over the last eight minutes of play and went flying past St. Lawrence Central to grab a 6-4 win in a NYSPHSAA state semifinal Saturday at The Aud.
John Jay will play the combined Christian Brothers Academy/Jamesville DeWitt team Sunday at 12:30 p.m. for the Division 2 championship.
“They were trying to stay positive,” Indians head coach Alex Smith said. “We talked about, ‘It’s the third period, there are 15 minutes. If we get a goal every five minutes, it’s a tie game.’ Now, that’s not the way it happened, but …”
When these kids are sharing the details of this comeback in 30 years, they better have some proof in hand.
“It was unbelievable to come out with a win like that,” John Jay forward Shawn Smith said.
The Larries (17-5-1) were clearly more comfortable under the bright lights and left the ice with a 3-0 lead after one period. For some reason, the Indians (23-1-1) were compounding mistakes with lethargy.
“It was a new experience for us and maybe we were a little mesmerized by the whole scene here,” John Jay forward Frazier Bostwick said.
The level of intensity picked up in the second, and Shawn Smith lifted spirits when he scored to make it 3-1 with 3:52 to go in the period, but St. Lawrence answered 25 seconds later when Blake Baldwin got loose. It was a deflating moment.
And the Indians spent a good, long time in the locker room.
They had to hustle back onto the ice after the first buzzer sounded a warning, and while John Jay was on the puck for most of the first seven minutes of a scrambled third period, they got nothing past Nate McLaughlin until Smith curled right with the puck and got a power-play goal with 7:38 left in the game.
“Once we get that one goal, we start rolling,” Smith said.
And in a matter of 11 seconds, John Tobin hustled onto a loose puck deep in the offensive zone and beat McLaughlin with a nifty hesitation move.
It was suddenly a manageable 4-3 deficit.
“That one really swung the momentum in our favor,” Grimm said.
Nobody let up, and the Indians exploited a weary opponent. Lucas Prestamo was camped out in front when Anthony Scapperotti unleashed a low drive. The freshman got the deflection and knotted the score with 1:38 to go.
“It was good work by Frazier down low,” Prestamo said . “The puck got to the point and Scaps made an awesome shot down low, right to the net and all I did was stick my stick out.”
Heads were spinning on both sides.
Grimm isn’t sure how it happened, but he came across a rebound in front with 59 seconds remaining and lifted it by McLaughlin in a blink.
John Jay was mixing and matching lineups on the fly in the third.
“I think I was out with Connor Moore and Thomas Blaney and one of them got a shot on net,” said Grimm, who was assisted by Moore and Mark Leprine. “It sort of squirted out to the right hash and I just sort of flung it up top. I thought we could win it in regulation.”
Shawn Smith added an empty-netter in the final seconds.
“I was asking myself a few times, ‘Is this real life?’ ” Prestamo said. “Fortunately, it was.”