CANTON, N.Y. — John Zeiler scored a goal and assisted on two others to lead St. Lawrence to a 7-0 ECAC Hockey League first-round playoff win over Princeton in the first of a best-of-3 playoff series at Appleton Arena Friday night.
Seven different players scored for the Saints, who improved to 16-17-2 overall with the win in their first home playoff game since March of 2001. Princeton drops to 8-19-3 and will try to extend its season with a Game 2 victory in Saturday night’s rematch.
The Saints power play, which came into the game at 16.4 percent for the season, was perfect in two first-period chances. Sophomore Max Taylor scored the first 8:31 into the period as he walked down the slot and snapped his 10th of the year past Princeton goalie Eric Leroux off a feed by T.J. Trevelyan. Junior wing John Zeiler made it 2-0 at 14:49 as he put back a rebound for his ninth of the year with Mike Zbriger and Taylor assisting.
“We came out with great intensity and it came from all four lines,” said Saints coach Joe Marsh. “The guys were pretty excited about playing at home and I think they did a great job of channeling that excitement into positive energy.
“To score seven goals and have no goals and one point from T.J. Trevelyan is something you don’t expect. It wasn’t that T.J. didn’t play well — we just had the kind of scoring balance you dream about. And, I thought we did a pretty solid job in our own end too. Princeton has beaten a couple of pretty good teams in the last couple of weeks and has some talented offensive players, but between the defense and Mike McKenna, we were able to have things go the way we wanted.”
The Saints made it a 3-0 game 9:18 into the second period and chased Tiger starter Leroux as Zbriger scored his seventh of the year, taking a pass from Zeiler and tucking the puck between Leroux and the post.
Senior defenseman Jim Hakewill greeted backup B.J. Skalapsky with a bomb from the slot which hit nothing but net just under two minutes later, scoring his fourth of the year at 11:10 and Josh Anderson took a goal-mouth pass from Stace Page and scored his sixth of the year at 16:17 to make it 5-0 after two periods.
Simon Watson made it a 6-0 game seven minutes into the third period as he was all alone in front and snapped a shot past Skalapsky off Macdonald’s centering pass and Stace Page made it a 7-0 game with 5:01 to play when he intercepted a Princeton pass at the Tiger blue line and walked in on Skalapsky to score his 12th of the year.
St. Lawrence senior goaltender Mike McKenna recorded his first playoff shutout and his third this season with a 23 save night. Leroux made 25 saves before departing and Skalapsky had 16 for Princeton as the Saints had a 48-23 edge in shots on goal.
“Mike earned the shutout,” Marsh said. “He made a couple of key saves at important points in the game, and our guys did a great job of shutting down Princeton’s power play. Now we need to turn around and do it all over again Saturday, but it sure is a good feeling to have the first one tucked away.”