CANTON, N.Y. — The last time St. Lawrence saw Princeton, the Tigers’ 1-1 tie provided the then-No. 1 Saints with their first blemish of the season. In Friday’s rematch at Appleton Arena, the Saints wasted no time avenging that result with a goal just 27 seconds into the game, and they rolled to a 3-1 victory.
The No. 3 Saints (21-3-2, 9-2-2 ECACHL) netted the game’s first two goals in the first eight minutes and added an empty-netter for a 3-1 win over No. 8 Princeton (12-6-4, 8-3-2 ECACHL).
The Saints’ dynamic first line provided the quick goal to lead off the game. Forward Sabrina Harbec outhustled a Tiger defender to a loose puck just outside the Princeton zone and poked it ahead to nation-leading goal-scorer Carson Duggan, who had no problem executing on the breakaway with a strong wrist shot just under the crossbar that beat Princeton goalie Roxanne Gaudiel.
“St. Lawrence is an elite team, we prepared really well against them” said Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal. “Five on five we played very well, our goal was just to stay out of the box and throw as much at the net as we could. What it eventually came down to was mistakes, and ours happened at crucial times.”
Although Princeton seemed to rebound well in spite of the early deficit, it was the Saints who struck once more, capitalizing on a Princeton penalty. Marianna Locke scored this time for the Saints, as she put home the loose puck around a sprawled out Gaudiel for the 2-0 lead after eight minutes.
Locke’s goal was the last time the Saints would beat Gaudiel.
“There’s a huge difference when you can execute early, it can give you a bit of a false sense of security,” said Saints coach Paul Flanagan. “They had some great goaltending, we had some good bids where we could have easily gone up 3-0, but Gaudiel played great to keep the game close.”
A critical turning point in the game was late in the second period, when Duggan raced into the Tiger zone trying to corral the puck with one hand while fighting the Tiger defender with the other. As she tried to steer the puck to the net, it fell off of her stick, and she collided with the Tiger netminder, resulting in a goaltender interference penalty.
Princeton took full advantage of the power play, as leading goal-scorer Annie Greenwood picked up the puck and fired it past a heavily screened Meaghan Guckian for the power play tally.
“Their speed is very impressive, once we got ahead they came back hard,” Flanagan said. “They have a real quick forecheck.”
The Saints stifled the Tigers in the third period, limiting them to only five shots and gave them no chance late in the third to even get the puck out of their defensive zone.
“We went out their tonight trying to just win a period, which we were able to do in the second period, so we were very hopeful going out there in the third, but we just came up short,” Kampersal said.
Freshman Lisa Batchelor added an empty net goal with seven seconds left in regulation for the 3-1 final score.
“Last time we played them, we got in penalty trouble, and they scored late in the game,” Flanagan said. “Tonight our ability to kill the penalties late in the game and only allow one shot on their third period power plays was the difference.
“We will take two points tonight and recognize that games are going to be this hard fought the rest of the way. Everyone is jockeying for position and a league championship is up in the air.”