CANTON, N.Y. — Senior wing Robin Carruthers snapped a 1-1 tie with a goal at 6:14 of the third period and St. Lawrence went on to hold off Vermont, 3-2, Saturday night, clinching a spot in the playoffs on the final night of the regular season.
The Saints, 11-19-2 overall and 9-11-2 in the ECAC, swept their weekend series with Dartmouth and Vermont for only their second series sweep of the year to finish ninth in the final standings. The Saints will play archrival Clarkson, which finished second with a 3-2 win over Dartmouth on Saturday, in a best of three quarterfinal series starting Friday.
Vermont, which finished last in the ECAC, gave the Saints all they could handle despite getting outshot 48-22 as freshman goaltender Scott Sortal made 45 saves in his first collegiate start. Vermont finished its season 3-26-2 overall and 3-18-1 in the league, out of the playoffs in last place.
Saint freshman Stace Page scored the lone goal of the first period as he tucked the puck past Sortal from right in front at 14:00. The Saints then outshot Vermont 10-1 in the first 11 minutes of the second period, but the Catamounts’ second shot, off the stick of sophomore center Patrick Sharp, got past Saint goaltender Mike McKenna at 11:24 to make it a 1-1 game after two periods.
McKenna, who had nine saves through the first two periods, stuffed Scott Mifsud of Vermont on a partial breakaway at 6:02 of the third period and the Saints turned it around to score the go-ahead goal on a three on one break. Blair Clarance dropped a pass to Carruthers, who rifled a shot just under the crossbar for his 10th of the year and a 2-1 Saint lead. Senior wing Russ Bartlett then gave the Saints a 3-1 lead with his fourth goal of the year and first in 18 games at 11:49.
That goal turned out to be the game winner as Vermont pulled Sortal for an extra attacker with 50 seconds left and senior defenseman Mark Gouett scored on a shot through traffic in front with under 15 seconds to play to cut the Saint lead to 3-2. McKenna, who had 11 of his 20 saves in the third period, then stopped Bryson Busniuk’s bid to tie the game with a toe save with two seconds left.
“We had to work for it, but that’s the way you want it going into the playoffs,” said Saint coach Joe Marsh. “The guys came through with big efforts in two pressure games and did what they had to do.
“The two freshman goaltenders both came up with big games. Sortal was outstanding and Mike McKenna made big saves at key times. We did a good job of bottling them up in the first two periods and really got some mileage out of our forecheck, but Sortal kept coming up big.
“Robin and Russ are both guys who have been through the battles in the playoffs, and they’re the guys who kept our streak alive with big goals in the third period,” Marsh added.
The Saints will be making their 18th consecutive ECAC tournament appearance under Marsh.