HANOVER, N.H. — St. Lawrence’s No. 1 ranking derives largely from a wealth of experience on the defensive end, while No. 8 Dartmouth has a wealth of youth in the same area. Which side was which was clear in the Saints’ 3-0 win on Saturday.
St. Lawrence (8-0, 1-0 ECACHL) held a 38-14 shot advantage through the first two periods as the Big Green (3-2, 2-2) struggled to mount an attack.
“Their defense did a nice job of getting the puck, then, boom, quick pass,” said Dartmouth coach Mark Hudak. “Our defense was picking up the puck, stickhandling once or twice, and all of a sudden the pressure is on. That’s just something they’re going to have to learn with time.”
The Saints could not solve Dartmouth goalie Kate Lane after 17 shots in the first period, but the veteran St. Lawrence defense kept the pressure off the younger forwards, and they finally broke through with all three goals coming in the second period.
Like usual, the Saints scoring came from a variety of sources. Two were of the unlikely variety — freshman Marianna Locke, who tallied her first career goal, and junior Casey Hughes, who netted her second since switching from defense to a third-line wing position. The goal from freshman Carson Duggan though was no surprise, since the former WWHL standout now leads the team with seven.
Saints coach Paul Flanagan was pleased with the team’s balance in scoring and shots on goal, from both the forwards and defensemen.
“So far this year we haven’t had to rely on any one player or goaltender to win a game for us, it’s been a real combination of goaltending, defense, and forwards doing their job,” he said.
While the St. Lawrence forwards did all the scoring, a different Saints defenseman assisted on each goal, between Kerri Wallace, Tracy Muzerall and Annie Guay.
“Our D are some of the best in the country,” said Duggan, who also assisted on the first Saints goal. “It all starts with defense, and if you have good defense, it’ll come offensively. They are so solid back there, and a lot of our passes come from them.”
On the first Saints goal 4:08 into the second period, Wallace set up Duggan for a shot on the power play forcing Lane down and out of the play. Locke picked up the rebound and patiently positioned herself for a backhand into the empty net.
Just 29 seconds later, Hughes parked herself in front and deflected in a feed from Muzerall for the 2-0 lead.
Duggan added the back-breaking third goal on the power play when she knocked in a rebound off a shot by Guay with 1:28 left before the second intermission.
“First period was okay, but we really let down in the second period,” Hudak said. “We’ve got to play a little bit grittier and be a little bit tougher like we were in the third period, and I think we’ll be pretty successful.”
Dartmouth’s youth isn’t isolated to the defensive end — Hudak noted the team had two or three new players on the ice at every shift. Dartmouth is also young at center, the forward position with the most defensive responsibility. Flanagan, in contrast, credited the experience of sophomore center Sabrina Harbec and senior center Emilie Berlinguette in aiding the development of the Saints’ three freshman wingers, Duggan among them.
Despite the Saints’ respectable 2-for-8 on the power play, it was Flanagan’s primary concern. He needed his team to move the puck quicker to counteract Dartmouth’s aggression.
“We didn’t adjust,” Flanagan said. “Dartmouth had a little bit of a different scheme they threw at us with their kills, and they did a good job with it. They put a lot of pressure on you with three players on one side of the ice that go right after you.”
The success of the kill and Lane at times were the stronger points for Dartmouth. Lane finished with 38 saves on 41 shots. On the other end, Jess Moffat stopped all 24 she faced, including 10 in the final frame.
“[Lane] did a great job in that first period, and there’s nothing wrong with what she did in the second period either,” Hudak said. “She kept us in the game a little while. I think we can do a better job of helping her out.”
Dartmouth next faces Clarkson, one of many teams Hudak believes to be capable of finishing as high as second in the league.
“Probably other than St. Lawrence, I think we’re going to have a really tight race, and it’s going to be a lot of fun for all the teams,” Hudak said.
St. Lawrence next visits Harvard, who is 9-0-3 against the Saints in their last 12 meetings. But this is a different Crimson team, who like Dartmouth, plays three freshman defense. A key for the Saints is to keep their penalties down, since Harvard has scored five of its last six goals with a power play or extra attacker.
“They’ll be a very energetic, enthusiastic team,” Flanagan said of Harvard. “They’ve had our number lately, but we’re not concerned with that. This is 2005-06. We just have to pay attention to detail, play hard, and get another effort like we had today.”