HAMILTON, N.Y. — The St. Lawrence Saints kept their win streak rolling as they defeated the Colgate Raiders 5-2 on the road. Prior to last weekend’s sweep at second-place Princeton and Quinnipiac, the Saints had won just one of their last 11 games. They now have a three-game win streak and a 1-0 ECAC first-round series lead.
“We stuck to the same things as last weekend against Princeton and Quinnipaic,” summed up Brock McBride. “This is the time of the year you want to get on a roll.”
“We’re a very dangerous team,” said Saints’ head coach Joe Marsh. He felt that his team had better “ice management” than they had displayed throughout the season, and that the key to the game was that his team keyed in on the big breaks they received.
“They wanted it more,” followed Raiders’ head coach Don Vaughan later in the interview session. “They beat us to most of the pucks; they won the one-on-one battles; we should have been able to respond. They’re a team that’s rollin’ pretty good right now.”
The Saints got on the board a little over three-quarters of the way into the opening frame. Charlie Giffin for St. Lawrence carried the puck through the neutral zone toward the Raider end and, seeing that the defense was playing overly-cautious and giving him shooting room, ripped a slapper from the blue-line that clanged off the post behind Raider netminder Mark Dekanich. The puck bounced off the pipe so hard that it came all the way out to the right point where Shawn Fensel had stepped in. Fensel went D-to-D to Jared Ross, who let go a low slapshot that whisked through Dekanich’s legs for his sixth goal of the season.
Though the Raiders had played a relatively even game with the Saints through the first period, the Saints put on a display that they were the hungrier team. In the next two period, St. Lawrence forced numerous turnovers at neutral ice and within the Colgate zone, basically monopolizing the offense except for a few moments in the third.
A quarter-period into the second, after the Saints had a goal waived off for having a player in the crease, they responded 30 seconds later with a legitimate goal. Zach Miskovic corralled the puck at the left point and fired a shot toward the net that was blocked by a Colgate back-checking forward. The puck deflected directly back to Miskovic, whose second chance proved successful. The shot traveled through several bodies and Dekanich for his seventh goal of the season.
Vaughan pulled Dekanich at this point to let him gather his composure. Dekanich would return several minutes later.
St. Lawrence kept the offense coming. Six minutes later, Pat Muir ripped a wrist shot high and wide from the top of the slot in the Raiders’ zone. Charlie Giffin and Mark Anderson battled for possession of the rebound coming out of the corner. Griffin caused Anderson to cough up the puck toward the center of the slot where Sean Flanagan skated in and took the puck away. Flanagan wristed the puck top shelf over the blocker of Dekanich for his third of the season.
Adding insult to injury, the Raiders incurred several penalties in the waning minutes of the second, and the Saints capitalized on one of their power play opportunities to go up 4-0. Raider defenseman Matt Torti pinned Saint forward Brock McBride along the left-side boards who had the puck. Kevin DeVergilio cycling through swept up the puck and whipped a pass across to Miskovic at the right point. Miskovic had all day to tee up his slapper, which he zipped past the glove of Dekanich on the near side of the net.
The Raiders finally got on the board 1:16 into the third. Ethan Cox took advantage of the extra space afforded by the 4-on-4 to skate end-to-end, right-to-left into the St. Lawrence zone. Cox let go a twisted wrister that was too quick for Saints’ goaltender John Hallas to get his glove on it, notching his seventh of the season.
At 16:25 of the third, McBride and Travis Vermeulen coordinated a play that epitomized the hunger of the Saints. McBride outhustled Raider defender Nick St. Pierre to the puck that had been dumped out of the Saints’ zone. No Raiders followed the play, so Vermeulen skated into the zone undefended, received the pass from the corner from McBride, and easily one-timed the puck past Justin Kowalkowski (who had replaced Dekanich for the second time in the game to open the third) before he could slide across the goal-mouth in time.
With 34 seconds remaining in the game, Jason Williams for the Raiders picked up a Matt Torti rebound in front of the St. Lawrence net and slid home into the open side his ninth goal of the season.
“We weren’t hounding the puck the way we needed to,” said Vaughan. The Raiders made several changes in their line-up to try to spark some offense in the third period, and he said that he and his coaching staff would discuss further changes for tomorrow night’s game.
“We need to get our go-to guys to look in the mirror and take over,” said Vaughan.
Marsh thought that Colgate outplayed his team in the first period, a repercussion of early jitters, but that his team “did the simple things” and did not try to do too much which kept the players on track. Marsh said he was relieved that his team had a several-goal cushion to stave off the Raiders’ come-back in the third. Tomorrow, he hopes his team puts out the same effort it did in tonight’s Friday’s second period.
“Tomorrow we have to up the energy level,” said Vaughan. “We’ve been in this position before.”
In the hall as I was waiting for Coach Vaughan to come out of the coaches locker room, Dustin Gillanders said, “Don’t worry about it — we always do it the hard way.”
Colgate will play St. Lawrence in game two Saturday night at 7 p.m. to keep its season alive.