CANTON, N.Y. — After Rensselaer fought to tie the game, St. Lawrence struck right back just over two minutes later to go up 2-1 in the second period. The Saints didn’t look back from there, rolling to a 5-2 victory to break an eight-game losing skid, and extending the Engineers’ ECAC winless streak to five games.
“It’s just a sense of relief as much as anything,” said Saints head coach Joe Marsh. “We played hard and it certainly was much closer than a three-goal game.”
RPI head coach Dan Fridgen was left frustrated at his team’s play.
“During the whole game, we took the momentum away from ourselves,” said Fridgen. “And it’s not the younger guys, it’s the seniors, the guys we expect to make the plays for us. They turned the puck over, they took penalties. …
“I am dumbfounded by it.”
The Saints made it 2-1 on the power play, as Ryan Shields was in the box and Jim Henkel was going to be called on a delayed penalty. Blair Clarance’s shot came in on net and the rebound went to Ziga Petac, and he roofed one off the fallen netminder, Kevin Kurk.
The Saints made it 3-1 when Clarance won the faceoff and Josh Anderson took a turn-around shot. Kurk was caught off guard and the puck went past his right skate and into the net while Steve Munn was in the penalty box.
In the meantime, the Engineers were marching to the penalty box, taking three consecutive penalties, making lines and chances difficult.
The Engineers came within one goal once again when Vic Periera scored for the second night in a row. He took the puck down the right wing and put a little backhand on McKenna, and it found a space to make it 3-2.
But the killer would be the Saints’ fourth goal.
Jim Vickers was behind his own net, looking to quarterback the power play and lost control of the puck. He gave it up to Clarance. Clarance came around and softly put one between the legs of Kurk for the 4-2 lead.
“It was a place where we just relaxed on the power play,” said Fridgen. “Not that [Kurk] could do anything, but we have to make those kinds of plays.”
The Saints scored the only goal of the first on what looked like a rugby scrum. A pack of six players all seemed to travel towards Engineer netminder Kevin Kurk, and as the pack and the puck moved towards him, Jim Lorentz found it and gave it a little push to put it into the net for the 1-0 lead.
The Engineers tied the game at one when Matt Murley took two point-blank shots that Mike McKenna saved, and the puck went to Marc Cavosie behind the net. Cavosie fed Carson Butterwick out front and his shot went through McKenna’s legs for the goal.
“It’s just very, very frustrating because it’s the little things that experience, having played three years in this league teaches you and we go out there and played like it was our first hockey game and there’s no excuse for it,” said Fridgen. “We’ve got to find a way to rectify it.”
The Engineers did have opportunities to come closer as the third period ended, with a five-on-three opportunity late, but they missed several times. The Saints scored an empty net goal for the final margin. McKenna made a total of 36 saves on the evening for the Saints, while Kurk made 25.
“The positives are that we never gave up, we had the work ethic, we had opportunities,” said Fridgen. “But, we just shoot ourselves in the foot.”
The Saints (4-13-0, 2-5-0 ECAC) broke an eight-game losing streak, but remained in last place. The Saints go to Vermont and Dartmouth next weekend.
“It’s a monkey off our back,” said Marsh. “The demons seem to have been exorcised. But we know that we have a way to go and we’re going to take it a game at a time. We’re going to try to make a playoff push and this is a good start.”
The Engineers (7-8-2, 2-5-2 ECAC), in 10th place in the ECAC, will take on crosstown rival Union in Schenectady, N.Y., on Wednesday evening. They are looking up in the standings at the Dutchmenm, who sit in ninth place.
“From my perspective, as a coach, it’s our job to get these guys ready to play against the opposition, but we can’t play the game for them,” said Fridgen. “But, I take responsibility.”