CANTON, N.Y. — Senior defenseman Matt Macdonald scored with 1:50 to play in regulation to snap a 2-2 tie and send St. Lawrence on its way to a 4-2 ECAC Hockey League first round playoff victory over Princeton Saturday night and a sweep of the best-of-3 series. The Saints, 17-17-2 advance to the ECACHL quarterfinals with their opposition to be determined by the outcome of a third game between Yale and Dartmouth to be played Sunday night. Princeton finishes its season at 8-20-3.
The Tigers’ season would have been over a lot earlier than 18:10 of the third period had it not been for the play of goaltender Eric Leroux, who gave his team a chance to steal a win with a 52-save night. The Saints led only 2-0 early in the third period despite a 40-10 lead in shots on goal and the Tigers came back to tie the game on a pair of goals by junior wing Dustin Sproat.
Sproat got the first one, his 17th of the year, on a two-on-one at 7:59 of the third and then tied it when Saint goalie Mike McKenna couldn’t get to a hopping puck while sprawled at the top of his crease at 13:37.
“We knew we were in for a battle tonight, and we got it,” said Saint coach Joe Marsh. “Leroux played a tremendous game and gave his team a chance to stay in it. You have to give Princeton credit for battling right to the end — it was a typical playoff hockey game.”
Macdonald took a pass from John Zeiler and pinched into the deep slot, gunning a shot past a partially screened Leroux at 18:10 and the Saints wrapped up the win when ECACHL goal-scoring leader T.J. Trevelyan scored his 25th of the year into the empty net with 41 seconds left.
“Matt has scored some big goals for us in his career and that one was certainly a big one tonight,” said Marsh. “We wanted to wrap things up and head on to the next round, and he made the play that enabled us to do that. It was a good weekend for us, but in the playoffs things just get tougher the farther you go.”
St. Lawrence stormed the Princeton net in the first period, but came away empty as Leroux made 24 saves to keep the game scoreless. The Tigers, on the wrong end of a 24-6 shot count in the first period, nearly took a lead with just over a minute to play, but Sebastian Borza’s shot from the short slot clanked off the post.
The Saint onslaught continued in the second period with a 15-4 SLU shot advantage, and the Saints grabbed a lead 3:24 into the period on Kyle Rank’s shorthanded goal. McKenna made a save and Matt Macdonald sent the puck ahead to Rank, who broke in on Leroux, held the puck and then lifted a backhander into the upper corner for his fifth of the season.
Saint captain Josh Anderson made it a 2-0 game 1:08 into the third as he took a pass from Max Taylor, cut across the goal mouth and slid his 7th of the year past a diving Leroux.