CANTON, NY — Freshman wing Mike McKenzie tipped a cross-ice pass from defenseman Shawn Fensel just inside the goal post on a St. Lawrence power play with 55.9 seconds to play to lift the Saints to a 4-3 ECAC Hockey League victory over Harvard at Appleton Arena Friday night.
McKenzie scored his eighth of the year to blunt a Harvard comeback and give the Saints their first sweep of the Crimson in a season series for the first time since 1999-2000. The Saints, 13-10-2 overall and 9-3-1 in the ECACHL also climbed into a tie with idle Quinnipiac for the league lead. Harvard falls to 7-11-0 overall and 5-8-0 in league play.
While McKenzie scored his fifth game winner of the season to lift the Saints in the final minute, the fourth line of Mark Wallmann, Jordan Hack and Jeremiah Cunningham were the big story for the Saints in the game, accounting for three of the four goals.
“It was a great game for all three of those guys,” said Saint coach Joe Marsh. “They have been playing well on a consistent basis, but I thought they really brought a little something extra with them tonight. Jordan Hack made a couple of great set-ups for goals and Mark Wallmann made a tremendous individual play to score shorthanded and give us the early lead. Cunningham then came through with a big goal to give us a cushion.”
St. Lawrence had a 3-1 lead when freshman Cunningham scored his fourth of the year at 8:11 of the third, but the Crimson clawed back into it when Ryan Maki scored his eighth of the year on a Harvard power play at 9:33, ending a streak of 35 consecutive power play kills by the Saints Maki picked off a pass up the middle as the Saints were trying to clear the puck and snapped the shot home for an unassisted goal.
Alex Meintel tied it up with his fifth of the season in a scramble in front of Saint goaltender Alex Petizian, popping a rebound into the empty net with Petizian down.
Harvard’s Steve Mandes took a high sticking penalty with 2:25 to play and the Saints cashed in for the game winner. Defenseman Drew Bagnall passed the puck across the top of the power play umbrella to Fensel, who snapped a pass toward the goal mouth.
McKenzie headed toward the net and deflected the pass between the post and Harvard goalie Kyle Richter’s pads for his fifth game winner of the season.
The Saints broke on top midway through the first period when Jeremiah Cunningham worked the puck free along the end boards and sent it to junior wing Jordan Hack. Hack centered the puck from behind the net and Mark Wallmann snapped home his third of the season at 9:37 for the1-0 lead.
Wallmann then scored his second of the period with a great individual effort on a penalty kill at 18:46. The Saint junior stole the puck from a Harvard attacker, stepped around another defender and snapped a shot past Richter.
The Crimson got one back just after a power play had expired as Steve Mandes picked up a rebound and tucked it into the net at 19:33 to make it 2-1 after one.
Neither team scored in the second period as Petizian came up big on a pair of Harvard power plays and Richter robbed Saint captain Kyle Rank from point-blank range on a SLU power play to keep it a 2-1 game.
Petizian finished with 20 saves for the Saints while Richter had 27 for the Crimson, which pulled the goaltender for an extra attacker with 55 seconds left, but could not get a shot on net.
“That was a big win for us, both in terms of the league standings and in terms of bouncing back from a tough night against Clarkson on Tuesday. I was very pleased with the way the guys responded tonight against a team that has traditionally given us a tough time,” Marsh added.