PROVIDENCE, R.I. — St. Lawrence junior forward Russ Bartlett scored a power-play goal with 1:36 left in the third to break a 2-2 tie at Brown on Friday. The Saints added an empty netter for a 4-2 road win, extending their win streak to four games.
“They always seem to play us tough,” Bartlett said. “It’s a battle every time we go on the ice with them.”
With just under three minutes left in the game, Brown sophomore forward Keith Kirley took a tripping penalty. And despite being tied 2-2 with the top team in the ECAC, the tension that suddenly took over the worst penalty-killing team in the conference became apparent.
About a minute into the power play, Bartlett fired a shot from the left point off a feed from senior defenseman Matt Desrosiers. Brown goalie Brian Eklund got a piece of it, but, nevertheless, the puck found its way in the net to break the deadlock.
“We were doing really well on the power play earlier this year,” Bartlett said. “Lately we have been struggling a bit. It’s good to pick up a big goal in this spot.”
With Brown sitting deep in the cellar of the ECAC, many might have expected St. Lawrence to roll. But the Bears proved up to the task, giving the Saints all they could handle for the second game this year. In December, the Bears and Saints skated to a 3-3 tie in Canton, N.Y.
“We have tremendous respect for these guys,” St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh said. “Their record is the most deceiving in all of college hockey. We knew we were going to have our hands full.”
“This game is a carbon copy of what our season has been like,” Brown coach Roger Grillo said. “We battled hard, but a late penalty call hurt us. We could’ve packed it in these last six games though. I am proud of our guys. I couldn’t ask for more out of them.”
St. Lawrence netminder Jeremy Symington did his part, turning aside 28 shots on the night, 12 of which came in a scoreless third period. Brown had several chances to grab the lead, but Symington was rock solid between the pipes.
Brown sophomore forward Jason Wilson had two great opportunities. First, on a breakaway, he was robbed by Symington, and later on a three-on-one rush, he dinged the crossbar.
St. Lawrence had its chances early too. In an exciting last frame, Robin Carruthers and Jim Lorentz had chances all alone on Eklund, but were stopped as well.
Eklund made 33 saves on the night, after recovering from a shaky first where he gave up two goals.
Saints sophomore forward Allie Skelly got the Saints on the board on their first shot of the game. After a neutral-zone giveaway, Mike Gellard made a nice cross-ice pass to Skelly, who fired a one timer past Eklund from the left boards.
Brown’s Doug Janjevich knotted it up midway through the first on a five-on-three opportunity. After Symington made several fabulous saves early in the power play to stop the Bears, defenseman Paul Esdale finally made a great adjustment and snapped a shot on net. Janjevich deflected it inside the left post to make it 1-1.
St. Lawrence grabbed a 2-1 lead before the end of the first though, as Desrosiers, who was in the action all night, cut in from the point and snuck one through Eklund. Senior forward Alan Fyfe made a nice feed from behind the net.
The second was a back-and-forth period, with Brown controlling a lot of the action at times. The line of Jon Zielinski, Janjevich and John Petricig moved the puck well but couldn’t convert on a couple fabulous chances.
Instead it was sophomore forward Tye Korbl’s line that got the evener, as linemate Keith Kirley moved the puck out to Chris Legg on the right boards. Legg made a strong and patient move toward the net, holding onto the puck until just the right point, where he could hit Korbl cutting to the net. Korbl sniped it by Symington, making it a 2-2 game.
“It’s tough for us,” Korbl said. “We all want to win. But no one is cashing in on this season just yet — and no one will.”
That was the first time the Bears had reached the two-goal mark since Jan. 20 at St. Cloud State, when they lost 5-4. But that was all they would get. Despite many more great chances, Symington closed the door to help the Saints get another two points.
Blair Clarence added the empty-net goal in the closing seconds to make it a 4-2 game. Clarence whipped a blind shot on net, which deflected off a Brown defender and trickled in the vacated cage.
Both teams played much of the game without their big guns. Brown senior forward and leading scorer Matt Kohansky was a healthy scratch, for reasons on which Grillo did not comment specifically. The Saints had to deal with losing their leading scorer, superstar Erik Anderson, who suffered an ankle injury early in the second. Anderson should be available by next weekend.
On Saturday, the Bears host Clarkson, which they also tied 3-3 earlier this year in Potsdam, N.Y. The Saints venture to Harvard to take on the Crimson, and look to extend their lead in conference play.