DURHAM, N.H. — The Saints have a thing for consolation games.
For the second year in a row, St. Lawrence defeated Dartmouth in the third-place game at the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four, this time by a 5-1 score. St. Lawrence senior captain Rebecca Russell had had a hand in all five goals in the game and freshman goalie Meaghan Guckian made 25 saves.
Last year, after an emotional 2-1 loss to Harvard in the national semifinals, coach Paul Flanagan managed to rally the troops for a 2-1 come-from-behind victory. This year, it wasn’t so close. The Saints scored two in the first and three in the third, sandwiched by the lone Dartmouth tally in the second.
“It’s a situation where you have two teams coming off difficult losses on Friday,” said St. Lawrence coach Paul Flanagan. “But when you get here, in the locker room, on the ice — it’s a consolation game, but it’s still a game.”
“This is not the way we wanted to end the season,” said Dartmouth coach Mark Hudak, whose team finished 7-7 after a 20-1 start. “We went into the game with some adversity.”
That adversity came in the form of a sick and bruised Cherie Piper, team scoring leader. Although Hudak had known she would not play since Saturday morning, it upset the balance of his scoring attack.
SLU captain Rebecca Russell, with a hat trick, finished just one goal shy of the all-time career goal scoring record at St. Lawrence. She holds dozens of other offensive records set earlier this year.
“I thought the senior leadership has been fantastic,” said Flanagan.
The scoring started with Russell’s 30th goal of the season, as she backhanded a shot across the crease and into the far side of the net.
Fourth line sophomore Kim Kodatsky, who had scored just four goals all season, was replacing late scratch Chelsea Grills on the first line and knocked in a rebound into an empty net while on her knees for the second St. Lawrence goal.
“Kim has not been playing much toward the end of the year when we’ve been playing just three lines,” said Flanagan. “But she stepped up and made the most of the opportunity when she had the chance. She played very well. She made a great pass in the neutral zone before the goal.”
A buzzer-beating breakaway goal by Dartmouth’s Gillian Apps at 19:59 of the second period gave the Big Green some hope, but three power play goals by St. Lawrence in the third period shut the door.
“I didn’t know if it was ever going to happen, but we finally cranked up the power play, 3 for 3 in the third period,” said Flanagan.
The first two goals originated from the same power play unit — the first by Russell from Sabrina Harbec and Emilie Berlinguette, the second by Harbec from Berlinguette and Russell.
Russell completed the hat trick with a solo effort, as she knocked in her own rebound for her 32nd goal of the season.
“All year long we’ve been having fun, and it’s great to go out with a win,” said Russell.
The win marks the 100th win for the St. Lawrence seniors and ends the Saints’ season at 28-8-5. Dartmouth finishes the year with a 27-8-0 record.
Finishing in fourth place for the second straight year, Dartmouth players tried to focus on the positives. Their class was the winningest in school history and team advanced to three Frozen Fours, although they never reached the final.
Alana BreMiller, senior defenseman for the Big Green, said, “Over the course of the year, we had a lot of fun, traveling on the road, spending time with the team. When we look back five or 10 years, that’s what we’ll remember. We need to focus on the great things that happened in our careers.”
Fellow senior Meagan Walton concurred. “I wouldn’t change this team at all.”