GLENS FALLS — Determined to not only win the Stick, but to win it without needing a shootout, senior forward Austin Gordon began the most emotional shift of his season in a tie game with eight minutes to play against the Adirondack Rivermen.
Seeking the go-ahead goal, Jack Randall beat Rivermen goalie Ben Di Fiore off an assist from Gordon. Less than one minute later, Gordon buried a goal of his own when he fired a shot from the slot behind the goalie’s right pad.
Gordon erupted in celebration as he skated to Queensbury’s student section, giving off a two-armed flex and bumping hard against the glass. After Gordon’s goal was announced over the loud speaker, students began an “Aust-in Gor-don” chant as play continued.
The Spartans scored twice more and went on to beat the Rivermen 7-4 Thursday night inside Cool Insuring Arena to retain the Stick.
“I get emotional because this is my last time playing for this,” Gordon said. “I never get to play for it again and I never get to play with the guys I grew up with. It is sad but you have to think about the win, and the emotions are crazy right now.”
Gordon’s shift that generated two goals in 57 seconds triggered a four-goal third period outburst for the Spartans.
“It was a crazy minute,” Gordon said. “A goal and an assist to go up by two and basically seal the deal.”
Queensbury improved its league record to 8-3 while the Rivermen fell to 3-5-1.
Both teams came into Thursday night’s game with two-game winning streaks and early on it looked like the Rivermen would bring the Stick back home with them.
Jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first period with goals from Willis Bickford and Andrew Rizzo, Queensbury responded in the second period with two goals of its own.
The first was from Brendan Duffy on a short-side shot that he just pushed through Di Fiore’s outstretched leg pad. The came other from Casey Moulthrop on a rebound he redirected.
“These are the types of games where we did not win a lot of battles,” Rivermen coach Mike Di Fiore said. “I was happy when it was 2-0 but we just did not execute a few times. We had pucks on our sticks but just lost them.”
The Rivermen have 15 freshmen and despite jumping out to an early lead, the physicality of the older Spartans showed as they wore down the Rivermen late.
“Once one goes in it gives energy to the bench,” Queensbury coach Dean Williams said. “Especially in the atmosphere of this game. We needed that one to crack and we were ready to roll after that.”
As for Gordon’s late-game performance, Williams said it was only a matter of time.
“He was due,” Williams said. “Tonight he was patient and kept plugging. That speaks to the seniors. We have four of them this year and they level the team out.”