CANTON, N.Y. — Mike McKenna made his first start of the season and made it count with 20 saves as his St. Lawrence Saints shut out the Rensselaer Engineers, 4-0. The shutout was the first of his career at St. Lawrence, and broke a nine-game winless streak for the Saints.
“It’s exciting, but when you’re on a nine-game winless streak, you need something and this was exciting,” said McKenna.
“We got some breaks tonight, Mike came up big with saves and we were able to keep them off the board,” said Saint coach Joe Marsh. “They had the better chances and I thought that we got our head screwed on straight with this one.”
“He played with an attitude tonight,” said Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen about McKenna. “In fact, their whole team did tonight. Last night we played with an attitude, tonight we didn’t.”
The Engineers started out controlling play and found themselves with a quick opportunity. Ben Barr received a pass and broke in alone on McKenna, but McKenna got a piece of it, and then swatted it away as it dangled on the goal line to keep the Engineers from scoring first.
“RPI came out flying in the first period,” said McKenna. “But we managed to turn the tide on them. Any time that you can make a save like that, it boosts the other guys on your team.”
“That’s a big boost rather than being deflated,” said Marsh. “The really set things up for us psychologically.”
The Saints took the momentum and got on the board first as Tony Maci fired a high shot from the left point that eluded a screened Nathan Marsters. Maci’s goal was his first of the season and the first of his career in his 49th game.
The Saints added two more in the second period. Jamie Parker scored his first collegiate goal in 36 games after a rebound shot from Kyle Rank was not cleared. Parker lifted the puck over the shoulder of Marsters.
After a clean faceoff win by Stace Page on the power play, Maci scored his second of the game with a blast from the point that eluded Marsters.
“Those were good goals tonight,” said Marsh. “Those goals energized the team. Maci has never scored before and neither has Parker. And those guys are loved by everyone on the team. And it just fired the bench up when they scored.”
The Saints scored their second power-play goal of the game as T.J. Trevelyan drove one past Marsters to close out the scoring for the game in the third period.
“It was not pretty at all, they played like a desperate hockey team,” said Fridgen. “I don’t think we played very well and their goaltender played outstanding. Nate was probably the only guy that was going for us tonight; he made some huge saves — and give them credit, they played desperate hockey. We didn’t play with the edge that we need to play with game in and game out.
“You can not go into games thinking that it’s already won and being happy about winning the night before. We’re the kind of team that is going to have to grind it out every single night.”
After winning their first game of the season against Miami, the Saints had gone 0-6-3 and were desperate.
“Like you wouldn’t believe,” said Marsh, asked if they needed the win. “This was one of the biggest wins we’ve had here in a long time. We haven’t played all that badly, but when we have played badly, we have played badly. We did a lot of little things that led to larger things tonight. We’ve been waiting around and waiting for the big thing to happen.
“That was a pretty big step for us tonight and a big win in the league.”
The Saints (2-6-3, 1-1-0 ECAC) will host Colgate and Cornell next weekend while the Engineers (3-3-1, 1-1-0 ECAC) return to Troy to host Vermont and Dartmouth.