When Chaminade's Kris Clarke crouches at the faceoff circle, there's no mystery. "I do the same thing every time,'' the senior midfielder said.
Why change a good thing? Clarke is a faceoff specialist who will take that skill to Hofstra next year. With Pride coach Seth Tierney in attendance Thursday night, Clarke was masterful at the art of the draw.
He won 13 of 15 faceoffs, including a huge one with 28.7 seconds left after St. Anthony's had made it a one-goal game. Clarke got the ball to Ryan Lukacovic, who made a surprising swim move to avoid two long-stick defensemen and score into an empty net to clinch the Flyers' 7-5 victory before a large crowd at St. Anthony's.
"I call it the pinch and pop,'' Clarke said of his signature move. "I clamp down and pinch my stick in. I was able to win that last one cleanly. Once Ryan had it, I knew he'd either run out the clock or score.''
Lukacovic, who along with Thomas Zenker scored three goals for Chaminade (13-1, 6-0 CHSAA), dodged Friars for 15 seconds.
"I was actually looking to get rid of the ball,'' Lukacovic said, "but I was able to get my hands free and there was a wide-open goal.''
St. Anthony's goalie Jack Concannon, a junior who will join Clarke at Hofstra, was spectacular in the second half but had to double-team the ball and try to force a turnover in the desperate final seconds. That's when Lukacovic, the Flyers' scoring leader with 32 goals and 31 assists, busted a new move.
"It's the first time I've ever tried it,'' he said with a grin.
Chaminade has beaten St. Anthony's (11-3, 4-2) twice during the regular season for a third consecutive year. But the previous two ended with the Friars winning the Class AAA CHSAA championship game. This year's game is May 23 at Hofstra.
Defenseman Brian Dunne, who along with Zenker and goalie Dan Fowler will play at Duke, is confident that this year will be different.
"I'm not buying it that you can't beat a team three times,'' said Dunne, who helped hold Friars scoring leader Dylan Molloy to one goal in this taut, defensive struggle. "We're going to get it this year.''
Zenker, who was dominant in the first half with three consecutive goals as Chaminade built a 5-2 lead, added, "It's about time. It'll be our last varsity game.''