CANTON, N.Y. — There won’t be any more home games for Union after next Saturday’s regular-season finale against Brown.
For the first time since the 2000-01 season, the Dutchmen will play an ECACHL tournament series on the road. The Dutchmen’s hopes for a fifth straight home-ice berth ended Saturday when league-leading and 15th-ranked St. Lawrence scored four third-period goals en route to a 5-2 victory at Appleton Arena.
The Dutchmen, who despite having home-ice advantage the last four years, never advanced past the first round. They lost to Rensselaer in 2003, Clarkson in 2004 and 2005 and Yale last season. The last time they played a playoff series on the road was in 2001, when they were swept by the Saints. Union didn’t make the playoffs in 2002, the final year when 10 of 12 teams made the postseason. The Dutchmen finished 11th that season.
The loss dropped Union (6-13-1 ECACHL, 13-16-3 overall) into last place. Brown took over sole possession of 11th place with its 6-6 tie against Harvard. Union hasn’t finished last since 1998-99.
The Dutchmen are four points behind eighth-place Colgate for the final home-ice berth with two games left. However, Colgate holds the tiebreaker with its season-series sweep.
Union picked a bad time to go into a tailspin. It is 0-5-1 in its last six games. That is why the Dutchmen will be on the road beginning March 2.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “[On the road] is where we deserve to be. We’re struggling right now finishing our chances. Just like [Friday] night [against Clarkson], we had some phenomenal chances. We’re not being strong enough on our chances. You want to win on the road in this league, you’ve got to bear down on your chances.”
Leaman did not make his players available to the media after the game.
Union snapped a 1-1 tie 2:53 into the third period when Chris Potts banked a shot from the slot off the left post and past goalie Alex Petizian. It was Potts’ first goal in 18 games.
The lead lasted 2:07. Jeremiah Cunningham ripped a wrist shot from the slot past goalie Justin Mrazek.
The Saints’ game-winner came while the Dutchmen were on a power play. After blocking a Lane Caffaro right-point pass, Drew Bagnall led a two-on-one rush. He fired a wrist shot from the right wing, and Mrazek stopped it. However, the rebound lay in the crease. It was pushed out to Kyle Rank in the left circle, and he buried it at 7:51.
“It was a broken play,” Saints coach Joe Marsh said. “We were lucky to block it. We came down on an odd-man rush, and they took advantage of it. It was kind of a freak thing where Rank came around, and [the puck] sort of came to him.”
Alex Curran made it a two-goal lead for the Saints (15-4-1, 19-11-2) with 5:23 left. Rank sealed the win with an empty net goal with 26.9 seconds left.
“We’re not finding ways to win games right now,” Leaman said. “We’re finding ways to lose games right now. Part of it is maturity, and part of it is we’re playing too soft.”
Jeff Christiansen scored Union’s first goal, a power-play tally midway through the second period that tied the score, 1-1. Jordan Hack scored earlier in the second. …
Union will face Yale at Messa Rink at 7 p.m. Friday. It is Yale’s first visit to Messa since last March’s record-setting five-overtime victory in Game 2 of the ECACHL tournament’s first round.