LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — When Mike Gellard, Erik Anderson and Alan Fyfe are kept off the scoring sheet, it’s not always a great night for St. Lawrence.
Well, they were, and it was anyway.
Junior right winger Robin Carruthers netted two goals and senior Jeremy Symington had a perfect night in net as the top-seeded Saints advanced to the ECAC championship game with a 2-0 semifinal win over fourth-seeded Dartmouth before 4,990 fans at 1980 Olympic Rink.
Carruthers’ game-winner came early in the second period, as the junior scored from the point on a power play to break the scoreless tie. In net, Symington avenged a tough performance against Dartmouth earlier in the season to turn aside 42 shots.
Now, St. Lawrence (19-12-4) has a chance to defend its 2000 league title.
“I think the only motivation we needed tonight was playing here for a championship,” Symington said. “This is something we’ve been working for all year, and now we’re one step closer to realizing that dream.”
The Saints went 0-1-1 against Dartmouth during the regular season, and were facing a Big Green team coming off an emotional, 3-2 overtime win over Vermont in the preliminary game Thursday night.
But St. Lawrence was cool under pressure, defending its top seeding by fending off a spirited Big Green attack in the opening period before taking control with several quality scoring chances in the second.
Throughout the night, the blueliners and Symington were dependable, as the former group kept the Big Green (16-13-4) mostly on the perimeter while the netminder minimized Dartmouth’s rebound chances.
Now, St. Lawrence takes its winning mix into the championship game.
“We felt like we peppered their goalie,” Dartmouth junior Chris Baldwin said. “I think the shots ended up around 2-to-1 in our favor. It’s a credit to Symington. He played an outstanding game tonight, especially in the third period. I felt like we had a bunch of great opportunities, but when he left the rebound, their guys cleaned it up.”
A day after the dramatic victory over Vermont, Dartmouth showed lot of energy against the Saints, pouring 42 shots on Symington.
The goaltender was perfect, however, as the Saints extended their Lake Placid shutout streak to 149:28, dating back to last year’s 2-0 semifinal win against Rensselaer.
With the loss, the Big Green will face second-seeded Harvard in the consolation game Saturday at 4 p.m.
“I think we’ve got a quality hockey team. I think we’re as good a team as there is in our league,” Gaudet said. “We ran into a good team that received an outstanding performance by their goaltender.
“It’s been a long time. It’s been a drought for Dartmouth that we wanted to put an end to. We won three playoff games. We’re not pleased with tonight’s result, but this team will be back. We have a good group of guys coming back.”
The teams skated to a scoreless but competitive opening 20 minutes, as Dartmouth took 11 shots to St. Lawrence’s 10. Both goalies played well, each neutralizing a handful of chances from the slot.
The Saints were outshot, 13-6, in the middle frame, but claimed most of the quality scoring chances, as all of their shots were from either the circles or the slot. They hit two posts in the period.
St. Lawrence opened the scoring at 1:28 of the period, converting on a power play when Carruthers snapped off a shot from the point that made its way through traffic and past goaltender Nick Boucher (22 saves). Carruthers’ goal, his fifth of the year, was assisted by Josh LeRoy and Jim Lorentz.
The Saints stretched their lead to two goals seven minutes into the third stanza, as Carruthers had a breakaway seconds after a Big Green power play and punched his sixth of the season past Boucher.
That ended the scoring, as the Saints whittled down the clock the rest of the way.
“This was a typical playoff game,” Marsh said. “Dartmouth gave us all we could handle down in our zone. We just kept working hard. We’ve been in a lot of games like this, so we just kept emphasizing to the guys to use their experience. We’ve got some experience, but it doesn’t do any good if you don’t use it.”
Dartmouth will face Harvard in the consolation at 4 p.m., while St. Lawrence will battle Cornell for the title at 7:30.
Big Green Notes: The Big Green lineup was back to normal. Jamie Herrington, who sat out Thursday’s 3-2 overtime win against Vermont with a back injury, re-entered the lineup in his usual centering position between Jason Costa and Michael Byrne. Brian Van Abel, who hurt his shoulder in the Vermont game, fought through the injury to play on the blue line.
Saints Notes: Robin Carruthers’ goal gave him eight points in the last seven games. … Jim Lorentz’ assist on Carruthers’ goal extended the left winger’s scoring streak to three games, all in the playoffs. … Coach Joe Marsh had some kind words for Vermont coach Mike Gilligan after the game. He said, “Mike did a tremendous job in that emotional series at Clarkson. I hope everyone realizes that there was a lot of talk about what happened last year. That might be one of the real stories of this tournament, the way they stuck with it. Mr. Gilligan is an example for all coaches in the country. He stuck by his players.”