NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Late in the third period of St. Lawrence’s Eastern College Athletic Conference opener with Yale, head coach Joe Marsh thought he was having deja vu. In four of his team’s last five meetings with the Yale in New Haven, the Saints and Bulldogs had battled to 3-3 ties.
On Friday night, they were poised to settle for yet another 3-3 draw, until Russ Bartlett’s power-play goal with just 13 seconds left in overtime gave the Saints a 4-3 comeback victory before a sold-out Ingalls Rink crowd of 3,486.
Bartlett earned first-star honors, picking up a goal and an assist, while Alan Fyfe scored a pair of goals and Erik Anderson added three assists.
Jeremy Symington made 26 saves for the Saints (2-2-1, 1-0 ECAC), who scored three times on the power play, including their last three goals. The Bulldogs (2-1, 0-1 ECAC) had been the talk of the college hockey world, stunning New Hampshire and Boston College to start off the season, but Friday they could not hold a late third-period lead. Ben Stafford gave Yale a 3-2 advantage with 3:23 left in regulation, but Fyfe evened the score 1:19 later.
“When we tied it, I thought we were looking at yet another 3-3 tie,” Marsh said. “But we had a lot of games like this last year. We never blew anyone out, so we knew what we were up against when they went ahead late in the game.”
The win is St. Lawrence’s first since a 5-1 victory over Holy Cross on October 21. Coming off the ECAC title and a trip to the NCAA Frozen Four last season, the favorites to repeat as champions needed Symington to keep them alive with a critical save against Nick Deschenes midway through the extra session.
“He did a great job for us tonight,” Marsh said. “I’m excited for him, because he’s a senior, and he’s played well in the past. Last year, [Derek] Gustafson got the hot hand for us, so we stayed with him. But now Symington’s getting his chance. This game is a big confidence booster for him.”
Just as they had done in their two wins of the season, the Bulldogs scored first, on Jason Noe’s second goal of the year. He took a pass across the slot from Spencer Rodgers, hesitated, then beat Symington with a low shot inside the left post just 1:16 into the game.
Andy Marchetti tied the score 2:15 into the second period, beating Lombard with a backhander from Allie Skelley and Kevin Veneruzzo. But the Bulldogs answered on the power play as Deschenes scored high from point-blank range at 10:37 of the second.
Before the second stanza concluded, though, the St. Lawrence power play started to take control. Fyfe netted his first of the game from Bartlett and Anderson at 15:01, sending the teams into intermission tied at two.
Neither team dominated play in the third period, and the Saints dodged a major bullet when they killed off a five-on-three for 51 seconds.
“We tried to keep our penalty kill relatively tight and kept the puck under control,” Marsh said. “We were very good on special teams last year, and we’re off to a great start this year.”
Lombard and Symington kept the game tied through the third until Stafford brought the Ingalls crowd to its feet with 3:23 left in regulation.
But after a Noe hooking call, the Saints answered with Fyfe’s second power-play goal. He redirected a shot from Anderson to silence the crowd and send the game into overtime.
“We had split up Fyfe and Anderson earlier in the season, but I decided to put them back together,” Marsh said. “They have to play with one another, because they feed so well off each other.”
The Saints threatened to end the game in the final minute as Anderson moved around defenseman Joe Dart to get a breakaway chance against Lombard. The Yale goaltender made the save, but Dart tripped Anderson from behind, giving the Saints their fourth power play of the night.
Twenty-five seconds after the call, Bartlett poked in Anderson’s pass from behind the net to give the Saints the win.