CANTON, N.Y. — St. Lawrence was determined not to fall victim to Brown today the same way as yesterday, or exit the ECAC tournament the same way as two seasons ago.
So coming off a 3-0 loss to lead off the best-of-three ECAC quarterfinal series, the No. 6 Saints (25-6-5) turned the tables on the Bears (15-14-2) in winning Game Two by a 3-0 margin themselves.
Saint sophomore forward Chelsea Grills had a gem of a game, scoring the first two St. Lawrence goals of the series, while junior goaltender Jess Moffat made sure they held up by notching her third shutout of the season for the Saints.
Grills netted the Saints’ first goal on a power play strike at 9:07 of the first period. She picked up the loose rebound after a Rebecca Russell shot and fired past a stretched out O’Hara Shipe into the lower left corner.
Later in the first period, Sabrina Harbec drove home a loose puck for what looked like the Saints’ second goal. But for the third consecutive game, the Saints had an apparent goal denied, this time due to a premature whistle.
However, Chelsea Grills made sure that the Saints weren’t going to fall flat like they had Friday after a disallowed goal. Late in the second period, Russell drove behind the net with the puck from the right side, and then hit the brakes and nailed Grills streaking in for an easy backdoor goal and a 2-0 lead. Shipe was caught looking for Russell to continue curling around the net.
“The team came together, we had the mindset that we weren’t going to back down,” Grills said. “This was a do-or-die situation, and we weren’t going to give up until we got on the board.”
The Saints’ top line of Grills, Russell and Crystal Connors accounted for 24 shots on goal today to exceed the Bears’ team total by one.
“They are a really skilled line, they play off each other and when those three get their feet going and start being creative, it’s just fun to watch,” Flanagan said.
Less than one minute later, St. Lawrence sealed the game on a phenomenal goal by freshman Sabrina Harbec. She raced down the left side while fighting off two Brown defenders, fired a wrist shot from the slot, and then picked up her own rebound and backhanded it home for a 3-0 lead at 18:41 of the second.
“When a team’s back is against the wall, they’ll come out with lots of energy, and we knew this but we didn’t come out strong,” said Brown coach Digit Murphy. “It’s all about winning pucks and they beat us to them.”
In the third period, Murphy elected to go with freshman goalie Stacy Silverman, who did everything she could do to keep her team in the game. Despite seven Brown penalties, she stopped all 12 shots she faced in the period, including a 2-on-0 breakaway.
“The one bright spot for us tonight was our goaltending,” Murphy said. “Stacy came in there and stood up to everything. If there is one thing I do know, it’s that good goaltending wins championships, and we’ve got that”.
The Brown penalties were of the undisciplined variety — roughing, cross-checking and boarding minors.
Flanagan said, “As the game was winding down, and the outcome was apparent you hate to see penalties like those — they have no place in this game. You don’t want anyone to get hurt. We’re just trying to keep people healthy.”
Murphy added, “We’re a grinding team, and we were a little frustrated, but I was very upset about the boarding call, because that was completely undisciplined.”
These two teams will grit it out in a pivotal third game on Sunday. Brown will get a date with ECAC regular season champion Harvard with a victory. If the Saints prevail, they will face regular season runner-up Dartmouth. The game is set for 2 p.m.