HAMDEN, Conn. — Greg Carey silenced a packed house at the High Point Solutions Arena with two goals Friday as St. Lawrence beat No. 1 Quinnipiac 2-1.
Tonight was the first loss for the Bobcats since losing to American International on Nov. 6 – a streak of 21 games without a loss.
Despite the loss, Quinnipiac still clinched the Cleary Cup after Union defeated Yale 4-2. This marks the first time in program history that the Bobcats have won the ECAC regular-season title.
A defensive battle through two periods turned into a Wild West shootout in the final five minutes of the third. The Bobcats had chance after chance including two wide-open nets and one shot off a post.
“A few guys had point-blank chances in front of the net and it’s a combination of luck and skill that they don’t end up going in the net,” Saints’ goaltender Matt Weninger said. “That’s the way it goes and I’m sure that on the streak they’ve had a lot of opportunities when those chances went in for them.”
Weninger’s strongest play came in the final period where he made 17 saves, with a majority of them in the final minutes.
“It got scary and you had guys grabbing each other on the bench every time the puck went by the net,” Carey said with a smile.
Quinnipiac captain Zach Currie was not afraid to admit that the Bobcats were not as aggressive tonight as they have been during the unbeaten streak.
“Obviously, it was desperation and we were throwing everything we had at them to get that tied,” said Currie. “We probably should have done that earlier and not let it get to that point.”
Carey picked up the game-winner 2:30 into the third period off a Quinnipiac turnover in its own zone. Carey quickly grabbed the puck in the far corner and streaked toward the net untouched. He found a spot on the short side and ripped it through QU goalie Eric Hartzell.
“[Carey is] a special player,” St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel said. “I’ve heard this forever, goal scorers they just go in for them and the first goal was just a rebound, but that second goal I’m not sure where it sneaked in.”
“I just found myself with a lane to the net and I got out front and stuffed it,” Carey said. “I just kind of dragged and saw a little space under his arm. I was actually trying to go higher and I kind of whiffed it and it went in.”
While the streak is over, Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold described tonight as just another night in college hockey.
“You have to give credit to Matt Weninger; he was the best player out there tonight and that’s what hockey is all about,” said Pecknold. “Goalies can steal games and win games and I wouldn’t say he completely stole it tonight, but he was a big part of it.
“We need to finish. We had empty nets and all these chances and it just would not go in there for us. It was just one of those nights.”
St. Lawrence jumped out to an early 1-0 lead just 4:37 into the opening period. After a Quinnipiac icing, the Saints had an offensive-zone draw on the left side. QU’s Mike Dalhuisen took a spill in the slot allowing George Hughes to slip a pass to a wide open Carey at the right circle. Carey quickly rifled his shot past a diving Hartzell for the lead.
Quinnipiac answered back with 6:13 left in the first on Jordan Samuels-Thomas’ ninth goal of the season. Bryce Van Brabant found Samuels-Thomas in the neutral zone where he streaked into the Saints’ end. Samuels-Thomas danced around his defender and wristed a shot through Weninger to tie the score at 1-1.
The Bobcats could not add another as they went 0-for-5 on the power play, including a man-advantage with just 5:13 left in the third.
With the win, SLU moves into a tie with Union for fourth place in the ECAC with just five games remaining.