MINNEAPOLIS — Tony Lawrence scored the game-winning goal with 22.5 seconds remaining in the third period, as St. Thomas scored twice in the final 2:32 to claim a 4-3 win over host Augsburg in a Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game Friday night at the Augsburg Ice Arena.
The teams entered the third period tied 2-2, and after Joe Pontrelli scored the go-ahead goal at the 8:23 mark on assists from David May and Nick Murray, it appeared that Augsburg was going to claim an upset win over the Tommies, ranked sixth in the latest U.S. College Hockey Online Division III national poll.
However, Bryan Skrypek tied the game on a rebound goal at the 17:28 mark, on assists from Eric Wenkus and Lawrence, and Lawrence took advantage of a steal in the final minute, scoring on assists from Wenkus and Jake Searles.
St. Thomas, which already clinched the MIAC regular-season championship and top seed in the five-team postseason, improved to 20-4-0 and 13-2-0 in the MIAC. The Tommies won their sixth game in a row and 22nd of their last 23.
Augsburg dropped to 13-8-3 overall and 9-5-1 in MIAC play, ending a seven-game winning streak. Augsburg has already clinched a spot in the five-team playoffs, but in order to avoid the play-in game between the fifth and fourth seeds, Augsburg must win Saturday’s series-ending game at 7 p.m. at the State Fair Coliseum in St. Paul, Minn. The MIAC regular season ends on Saturday.
If the Auggies defeat the Tommies on Saturday, Augsburg will clinch at least a third-place conference finish and advance directly to the conference playoff tournament March 1-2 at the Schwan’s SuperRink in Blaine, Minn. Should Augsburg lose or tie on Saturday, it would play in the play-in game either as a fourth or fifth seed, depending on the outcome of Saturday’s St. Mary’s at Concordia-Moorhead game.
Both teams scored a shorthanded and power-play goal to achieve the 2-2 tie after two periods. Anthony Blumer scored a shorthanded, unassisted goal 7:16 into the game, but the Auggies’ Jake Wegscheider tied the game on a power-play goal just 1:17 later.
Wegscheider scored his second goal of the game on a shorthanded tally at the 15-minute mark of the first period, and Dustan Lick tied the game for the Tommies on a power-play goal early in the second period. St. Thomas goalie Bob Tallarico made 32 saves to pick up the win. Augsburg goalie Peter Samargia made 33 saves in a losing effort. St. Thomas outshot Augsburg by a 37-35 margin.