CANTON, N.Y. — Five years of frustration finally ended for Union against St. Lawrence Friday night.
But it certainly wasn’t easy.
Jordan Webb’s goal midway through the third period snapped a 3-3 tie, and the Dutchmen held off a raging Saints attack over the final five minutes to take a 4-3 ECAC win at Appleton Arena.
The victory snapped Union’s 12-game losing streak against St. Lawrence. The last time the Dutchmen (7-6-3, 3-4-1 ECAC) beat the Saints (3-13, 1-5) was Feb. 8, 1997, when they captured a 2-1 win at Appleton.
“We knew we could come in here and beat these guys,” said Union senior forward Jeff Hutchins, whose goal with 1:52 left in the second period tied the score, 3-3. He also assisted on Webb’s game-winner.
“We were pretty confident. They have been struggling this year. I think we’re in a good position right now.”
The Saints made the Dutchmen earn their third-ever win at Appleton. They fired 16 shots on goalie Brandon Snee in the third period, and they had some wonderful chances to tie it.
With 1:41 left, Saints defenseman Ray DiLauro drove the net and fired a shot on Snee. He made the save, but the puck lay loose in the crease. Snee was able to clear it out before a Saints player could tap it in.
With five seconds left, Russ Bartlett had an opening on the left side of the net. But he fired the shot wide, ending any hopes of sending the game into overtime. It was the Saints’ eighth one-goal loss of the season.
“I just told the boys that it’s a great sign for our hockey program to not play particularly well, and come into one of the toughest rinks to play in the country and gut out a victory,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon said. “I’m awful proud of the guys.”
The final five minutes was reminiscent of Game 2 of the 2000 ECAC playoffs, when these two teams met in the first round. Union had a one-goal lead late in the game, but St. Lawrence’s continuous pressure resulted in a game-tying goal in the final minute. The Saints won the game in overtime, and took the series.
“You can’t think that way,” said Snee, who made 36 saves. “We’re not looking to play to tie or playing to lose, we’re just out there win. It got a little hairy, but they’re down a goal.”
Stace Page gave the Saints a 1-0 lead at 5:23 of the first period, but the Dutchmen tied it on Charles Simard’s goal just over five minutes later. Brent Booth game Union a 2-1 lead with a shorthanded goal at 9:10 of the second period. But goals by Robin Carruthers and Sean Muir 3:13 apart later in the second gave the Saints a one-goal lead. Hutchins tied it with 1:52 left in the second.
On the game-winner, Hutchins won a faceoff back to Randy Dagenais at the left point. Dagenais’ shot was deflected, and rolled to the net. Webb got it and put it past Ackley.
“They’ve always worked hard,” Saints coach Joe Marsh said.
“Look at the games we had here in the playoffs against them. They deserve a lot of credit.”
Now, for the third straight year, the Dutchmen have a chance for their first-ever North Country sweep. They visit Clarkson at 7 on Saturday. Union has won there that last two seasons.
“I think [the chance] is great,” Sneddon said. “You show up and play for 60 minutes in this league, you have a chance.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.