CANTON, N.Y. — No. 2 St. Lawrence entered Saturday’s contest with Dartmouth looking for sole possession of first place at the end of the ECACHL regular season, while sending six seniors out on a high note. When all was said and done the Saints cruised to a convincing 5-1 victory and fulfilled what they set out to accomplish on a day filled with high emotions.
St. Lawrence (28-3-2, 9-8-3 ECACHL) outskated Dartmouth (12-11-4, 9-8-3) from the drop of the puck, however, it took most of the period to get on the scoreboard.
The Saints put two goals past Big Green goalie Kate Lane in a 63-second span late in the first period on sensational solo plays by freshmen Carson Duggan and Marianna Locke. Duggan’s goal came off of a two-on-one when she deked the Big Green defender before maneuvering the puck through Lane’s legs. Locke one-upped Duggan’s tally when she stole the puck from a Big Green defender, drew the puck around another and shot off a backhand into the top of the netting for a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.
The lone marker of the second period came on the power play, when Saints junior Crystal Connors slapped the puck home from the left face-circle.
Pressure from the Saints was unrelenting, as Duggan deflected the puck past Lane for her second goal of the day on an Annie Guay shot. The Big Green had just 13 skaters dressed, and as the game wore on fatigue looked to be a factor — most evident in their five interference and three hooking penalties.
“Fatigue affected us a little bit, but St. Lawrence came out flying, they are a very good team,” said Dartmouth coach Mark Hudak. “Hopefully we can learn from our mistakes, we didn’t play a great 60 minutes. Last night and tonight we need to find a way to play better back to back.”
Dartmouth was held to only nine shots, and just one shot on the power play. However, that one shot found the net, when a Sarah Newnam shot from the point was tipped home by Marley McMillan past a heavily screened Jess Moffat.
There was no noticeable momentum swing when the Big Green pulled back to within three, as the Saints went back to work and netted one final tally on an Abbie Bullard shot to leave the final tally at 5-1.
The last shift out for the Saints was a memorable one, as all six Saints senior starters skated out their final regular season game as a class. They got the recognition they deserved as the Saints class with the highest winning percentage in school history.
“It’s pretty special when you can get in a situation where the seniors can start and finish the game, and where everyone is able to contribute,” said Flanagan.
“It was emotional and I enjoyed it a lot, it was one of the best feelings I have ever felt on the ice,” said tri-captain Tracy Muzerall of her final shift.
In the victory, the nation’s leading scorer and Patty Kazmaier nominee Sabrina Harbec picked up her 33rd and 34th assists on the season, leaving her point total for the season at 58. Carson Duggan picked up two goals, finishing the season with 27 — the nation’s best total.
“Sabrina is the leading scorer on the No. 2 team in the country and her points have helped produce 28 wins and that says a lot in itself,” said Flanagan. “She’s out on the power play for half of the time and it is one of the best units in the country in large part due to her contributions. She uses her teammates well and makes those around her better players. She is not a one-dimensional player.”
With the regular season in the books, the Saints will now play host to Yale next weekend in a best-of-three ECAC quarterfinal series. The Saints won the regular season decisions by margins of 4-2 and 7-1.
“When there is no tomorrow you just have to limit mistakes and you can’t give the opponent multiple chances,” said Flanagan, referring to the playoffs. “We will need solid goaltending and strong defense, and when the forwards get chances they’ll have to bury their opportunities.”
When asked what the team needed to do to ensure a strong playoff run, Muzerall simply said, “Keep playing hard and don’t look back.”