SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Union coach Nate Leaman thought his team played one of its best games of the season Friday against St. Lawrence. But it wasn’t good enough to beat the 19th-ranked Saints.
Leaman and the Dutchmen could only shake his heads in frustration following their 3-2 ECACHL loss at Messa Rink. And they had every reason to be upset.
Union (3-8 ECACHL, 10-11-2 overall) out shot St. Lawrence (8-2, 12-9-1), 34-23.
The Dutchmen dominated the final two periods with a 26-12 shot advantage, including 18-8 in the second period.
But after scoring twice in the first period, the Dutchmen couldn’t get any pucks past Saints goalie Alex Petizian over the final 40 minutes. That would prove costly when Max Taylor scored a power-play goal 6:31 into the third period, snapping a 2-2 tie.
“I thought Petizian was excellent,” Leaman said. “I thought he made a lot of big saves. I thought that was the difference in the game.”
Even when the Dutchmen got a puck past Petizian, they couldn’t catch a break. Matt Cook hit the post on a slot shot with five minutes remaining in the game.
“We worked hard all game,” Leaman said. “We worked smart all game. We just couldn’t get one by the kid. We had a lot of great chances right in front. For whatever reason, we just couldn’t get one by him.”
Dutchmen forward Josh Coyle, who had a goal and an assist, summed it up best for the Dutchmen.
“They did all the little things right,” Coyle said. “They won the special teams. They buried their chances. When we had our chances, we couldn’t score. It was a frustrating game. That’s how the puck bounces sometimes.
“You’re as happy as the outcome. We played well, but we didn’t play well enough. Good teams find a way to win. We didn’t find a way to win.”
St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh realized how lucky his team was to escape with a win.
“I thought they did a great job,” Marsh said of Union. “We knew Union’s a gritty team, a hard-working club. We were fortunate to get the power play working lately, and that was the difference. Petizian made some big stops. It was an important win for us to win that way. To steal a win on the road is so important.”
Coyle opened the scoring midway through the first period with his 10th goal of the season. He took a drop pass from Sean Streich at the left point, skated to the slot and fired a wrist shot past Petizian’s left side.
“It was a good play by Streich dropping it at the line,” Coyle said. “The [defense] sagged. We knew that they would do that going into the game. I just utilized that. I picked the corner, and got lucky.”
The Saints tied it with 5:36 left in the first when Shawn Fensel’s right-circle wrist shot beat a screened Justin Mrazek. St. Lawrence took the lead less than three minutes later on Kyle Rank’s goal. But the Dutchmen got that one back quickly as Coyle sent the puck from behind the net to T.J. Fox in the slot. Fox, who entered the game as the ECACHL’s leading scorer, one-timed it past Petizian for his 10th goal of the year.
Kevin DeVergilio set up Taylor’s game-winner. DeVergilio was in the right circle when he spotted Taylor alone in front of the net. Taylor redirected DeVergilio’s pass past Mrazek’s right side.
“Obviously, it’s disappointing,” Streich said. “We have to shore up our penalty kill again. We’ve got to get back to that three-game stint where we had no power-play goals against.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.