The rookies did not want St. Lawrence University's hockey season to end, and made sure it didn't as freshman wing Greg Carey scored two goals and rookie center Kyle Essery netted the third period game winner as the Saints squared their best-of-three ECAC first round playoff series with Princeton with a 3-2 win at Hobey Baker Rink Saturday afternoon
The Saints, now 11-20-5, will play the 6th-seeded Tigers, 17-12-2, for the right to advance to the quarterfinals at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The Saints will be out to square their record in games three of playoff series at 2-2 since 2006 and to advance to the quarterfinals for the third straight year when they meet the Tigers on Sunday.
"I thought we played a very solid game," said Saint coach Joe Marsh. "Special teams was obviously a big difference for us...we gave them only one power play and we converted on two of our own. We also did a solid job defensively and didn't give them too many openings that Matt Weninger couldn't handle."
Weninger picked up his first collegiate post-season victory for the Saints with a 28-save performance which included a dozen stops in the third period. He made several point blank saves and got some help from defensemen Pete Child and George Hughes, both of whom knocked away rebounds which appeared destined for the net in the third period.
Princeton opened the scoring 5:50 into the game when Mike Kramer found Rob Kleebaum all alone between the faceoff circles right in front of Weninger and Kleebaum banked his second of the playoff series in off the post. The Saints came back to tie just under four minutes later when Carey scored his 19th goal of the season on the Saints' first power play opportunity of the game.
Kyle Flanagan got the puck back to Carey at the center slot and his bomb from just inside the blue line beat Princeton goalie Sean Bonar cleanly with Nic Vangog screening in front.
Princeton took a 2-1 lead at 4:13 of the second with Andrew Calof credited with his ninth of the season as he took the puck behind the Saint net and threw it out in front, the puck hitting the back of a Saint defender's leg and caroming past Weninger and into the net.
Carey tied it again for the Saints on a five-on-three power play at 12:09 of the second as he took a pass from Jared Keller and snapped a wrist shot inside the far post with Vangog picking up his second assist of the game on the play. It was the first time in three games against Bonar that the Saints have gotten more than one goal past him. Keller later injured a knee on a hip check and is lost for the rest of the playoffs.
Essery put the third of the game and the game winner, the first of his collegiate career, past Bonar at 9:42 of the third as he cut down the slot, took a pass from Sean Flanagan and snapped a wrist shot between Bonar's blocker and the post with Jacob Drewiske also assisting.
"All three goals were well placed and well-timed shots," said Marsh. "We know that Carey can score and that he has a deadly wrister, but Essery showed us he can put it away as well."
The Saints were outshot 12-3 in the third period, but were able to hold off the Tigers, who pulled Bonar for the final 1:33 for an extra attacker, stretching the season for at least one more game.