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HOCKEY: Late goal helps Clarkston advance in OAA Red tourney

Wolves sneak by Farmington in first round; up next,

FARMINGTON HILLS – The Clarkston Wolves advanced in the OAA Red Playoff Tournament with a 3-2 win over the Farmington Falcons late Friday night.

A.J. Kowal got the game winner with just 1:36 remaining in regulation, ripping a shot from the high slot into the back of the net to propel Clarkston to victory.

Kowal’s goal came just 12 seconds after Farmington had tied the game at 2-2 on a blue-line snap shot from Nick Gensheimer. Trailing 2-0 entering the third period, the Falcons outplayed the Wolves for much of the third and tied the game on tallies by Gensheimer and Nick Heffron.

“We fought back. We responded to the adversity of them tying it back up,” Wolves coach Bryan Krygier said.

The Wolves had taken the lead early when Jacob LaPorte collected his own rebound, circled the net and fired a backhanded shot into the top right corner less than four minutes into the game. Clarkston would go on to outshoot Farmington, 20-3, in the first period, but that was the only goal they could muster, as Falcons goaltender John Lethemon turned in a stellar performance on the night, stopping 35 of 38 shots.

“He’s played great all year,” Falcons head coach Mark Vellucci said. “I think we sometimes rely on him too much, but when you have a goalie like that, you have to rely on him somewhat.”

Still, Clarkston didn’t take control of the game until the opening moments of the second period, when the top line of LaPorte, Chase Wiedemann and Garrett Polish connected for the second time in the game. This time it was Polish picking up the goal, doubling the Wolves’ lead to 2-0 just 14 seconds into the second period.

“That was an important play, and I think we caught them off guard off the faceoff,” Krygier said.

For two periods, the Wolves had control of the game. Led by their top line of LaPorte, Polish and Wiedemann, as well as defensemen Eric Matynowski and Adam Johns, Clarkston dominated the shot totals as well as territorially using their superior puck possession to neutralize Farmington’s attack for long stretches, while firing an inordinate number of shots at Lethemon.

In all, Clarkston piled up 32 shots in the first two periods to just 10 for Farmington. But the one place the Wolves couldn’t dominate was the scoreboard, which read just 2-0 in after two periods and set up a wild finish in the third.

“We had a lot more puck possession than them,” Krygier said. “That’s why we ended up scoring our goals. “I was pretty pleased with our effort,” he added.

On the other bench, Vellucci was a bit disappointed with his team’s effort after the Falcons had come into the game playing well of late.

“I thought in the third our top two lines started to turn it on a little bit, but overall we just didn’t play good,” he said. “It was just one of those nights. We weren’t getting the bounces. We weren’t making the bounces, and a lot of the credit goes to Clarkston.”

Farmington moves to the consolation bracket, where it will play Birmingham Unified. Clarkston moves on to face top-seeded Rochester United in the semifinals, which Clarkston beat back in December.

“They’re always tough,” Krygier said. “It should be a battle, but our guys are working hard. I think as long as we play hard, we’re disciplined and we get the puck to the net, we should be fine.”



OAA Red Tournament results

First round at Farmington Hills Ice Arena
>

Rochester United 5 Birmingham Unified 2

Farmington Hills Unified 5 Lake Orion 2

Stoney Creek 3 Oxford 1

Clarkston 3 Farmington 2

Semifinals - Saturday at Birmingham Ice Arena

Farmington Hills Unified vs. Stoney Creek, 4 p.m.

Rochester United vs. Clarkston, 6:30 p.m.

Consolation Bracket

Lake Orion vs. Oxford, 11 a.m.

Birmingham Unified vs. Farmington, 1:30 p.m.



Last Updated: 2/16/2013 12:58:10 AM EST

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