TROY, N.Y. — The St. Lawrence Saints scored three times in the first period and three times in the third to put away the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the first round of the 50th Rensselaer/HSBC Holiday Hockey Tournament.
Even though the Saints had not played in 19 days while the Irish had played 10 days ago, the Saints seemed to have more life than the Irish.
“We had pretty good energy as soon as we got back from the holiday,” said Saints coach Joe Marsh. “It was a pretty fast paced game and physically in the first, and it got a little squirrelly in the third, but we’ll work on that. But it was a real good win.”
“That game is pretty indicative of our entire season,” said Irish coach Dave Poulin. “We have not played well as a group other than a few such isolated incidents that you could actually point to them. We played well in Omaha for two games, but other than that it’s hard to find. We’ve literally played well in a handful of games this year.
“We’re not getting it from every single part. Our special teams have been poor, our penalty kill had been good until tonight — there’s nothing to do but work through it.”
The Saints got out to a 1-0 lead on the power play 7:37 into the game.
Mike Gellard had an open net as the Saints played tic-tac-toe. Erik Anderson took the puck, made a quick pass to Russ Bartlett in the slot, and quickly shuffled it to Gellard and the puck was in the net past Jeremiah Kimento.
The Irish would tie it up a minute and a half later as a bouncing puck was tucked under Jeremy Symington by Ryan Dolder.
But the Saints scored quickly to retake the lead, as Rich Peverley found Ziga Petac streaking off the bench to nail one past Kimento; then the Saints would make it 3-1 as Peverley scored.
The game stayed that way until the third, when just 42 seconds in, Anderson beat Kimento between the legs on a right-wing rush on the power play. Next, Charlie Daniels found a loose puck in the slot, and clanged the post and crossbar before the puck went into the net for the 5-1 lead just 46 seconds later.
The Irish then came to life to put two on the board. Jay Kopischke snapped one that trickled past Symington, and then Paul Harris took a shot from the blue line that managed to evade Symington to bring the score to 5-3.
But the Saints would put it away with 3:15 left as Bartlett crashed the net and poked home a loose puck to kill the Irish rally.
“The frustrating thing is that we’ve seen that time and time again,” said Poulin of his team’s third period. “We decide to play for 14 or 15 minutes — we’re the best team on the ice. What happens for the rest of the time is unacceptable. The same team that played the first 15 minutes of the third should play the rest of the game.”
“We need that desperately, our third and fourth line; we need to spread out our scoring attack,” said Marsh of the contributions of Daniels, Peverley and Petac. “It feels good to get six goals … we’ve been struggling offensively. We played hard defensively, but most importantly we got a win. In that third period we never felt very good until we got that sixth one.”
The Saints (4-7-3) will play Northeastern in the championship game, while the Irish (4-13-3) play host Rensselaer in the consolation.