SYRACUSE — The Maroons blew the game open in a span of 5:10.
The Auburn boys hockey team added to its one-goal lead with three quick strikes early in the third period and rode the momentum to a 5-1 victory over Clinton the the Section III, Division II championship game at the Onondaga County War Memorial Monday.
For Maroons coach Mike Lowe, the fast start to the third came down to conditioning and confidence.
"Nothing changed. The kids knew we had the legs," Lowe said. "They've been working real hard. We talk about it all the time. We had the legs. They knew it. They had confidence going in and never had a doubt in their mind.
"Once you get one or two and they get a little momentum and a little excitement, if they get a couple more chances, they're going to bury them."
Auburn was undaunted by Clinton opening the scoring early in the first. Jake Morin and Johnny Malandruccolo each netted goals in the second to give the Maroons a 2-1 lead heading into the final frame.
"We just knew if we stuck to our game good things will happen," Morin said. "That was a total team effort. Everybody played well, blocking shots. Everyone was willing to pay the price and it paid off."
Malandruccolo broke into the zone all alone, deked and fired a shot past the Clinton goalie 1:12 into the third period.
Less than two minutes later, Malandruccolo picked off a pass in the neutral zone, roared straight to the net — and just before getting to the crease — teed up a one-timer for Morin, who fired it home.
The Maroons weren't done. Morin capped a hat trick with a shot from the top of the circles off the rush at the 5:10 mark of the third.
"We just kept fighting," Malandruccolo said. "We had a positive attitude coming into the third period. We knew we had legs and we were ready to go, and got the job done."
With the momentum and score firmly in their favor with five unanswered goals, the Maroons cruised to their first section title since 2014.
"Amazing," Morin said of the feeling. "This is what we've worked for. I'm a senior, so for four years this has been my goal and to finally achieve it is an unbelievable feeling."