DURHAM, N.H. — When St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh came into Durham, he felt that his team had a chance to pull off the upset if they stay disciplined.
When that fell through, Marsh relied on the next best thing — a hot goaltender.
Freshman Matt Weninger stopped 32 shots and helped shutout one of the nation’s most prolific power plays en route to a 2-1 road overtime upset over No. 2 New Hampshire (10-3-4).
“We wanted to stay disciplined,” Marsh said. “The first star for me would go to our goaltender (Weninger). He made some big saves and gave the guys a lot of confidence.”
On the other end of the ice, St. Lawrence senior captain Aaron Bogosian was everywhere and made the play of the game 29 seconds into overtime to give St. Lawrence the win.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Bogosian gathered the puck in the neutral zone, ripped a shot from the slot that bounced off UNH goalie Matt DiGirolamo and poked in his own rebound to send the Saints flying off the bench and into frenzy along the boards.
St. Lawrence (5-8-3) nearly — and possibly should have — scored the game-winner with 15 seconds left in regulation when the puck squeezed through Digirolamo’s legs in the midst of heavy traffic in front of the net, but a referee blew the whistle just before the puck was poked free and, after a review, was ruled no goal.
“He (the referee) came over and apologized to me,” Marsh said. “We just didn’t know why the whistle blew.”
The Saints dominated much of the first half of the game, outshooting the Wildcats 12-7 at one point.
However, New Hampshire’s normally potent offense couldn’t capitalize on a flurry of chances.
“All game we didn’t finish,” New Hampshire coach Dick Umile said. “We missed opportunities and played like we’d been on break the last couple weeks.”
It was the first game for both teams since winter break. It was the first game in two weeks for St. Lawrence and the first in 22 days for New Hampshire.
Both teams were plagued by poor passing and sloppy play at multiple times in the game, a sign of the lack of live play.
The Wildcats couldn’t make anything of six power play chances, including 43 seconds of a two-man advantage, mustering only six shots on them, while allowing numerous short-handed attempts, including two breakaways.
St. Lawrence, in preparation for the Wildcats’ power play units, created four penalty kill lines to prep for New Hampshire’s speed, and the coaching move paid off big time.
“Weninger was the best penalty killer for sure,” Marsh said. “The short-handed unit has done a good job this year.”
St. Lawrence led for nearly 30 minutes after Mark Armstrong netted his first goal of the season on a hard wrist shot that hit the top of the crossbar before crossing the goal line early in the second period.
New Hampshire though, tied things up with five minutes to go in regulation after John Henrion buried a wrist shot.
Weninger had an answer for every shot after that.
“Sometimes the goalie gets the bounces,” a somber UNH captain Mike Sislo said. “They worked harder than us. Then we made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized. And that’s the game.”
Umile shared a similar tone, stressing the missed opportunities.
“There were no bright spots tonight,” Umile said. “We had enough time to practice, so I’m not going to use it as an excuse. We started to play better in the middle of second, but didn’t have a goal to show. We moved the puck pretty well, we just didn’t finish. That’s where I’m disappointed.”
The mood was different for obvious reasons in the other locker room.
“This is without a doubt the best game we’ve played, against the best team we’ve played,” Marsh said. “We played very well tonight.”