The magic continued on St. Lawrence University's men's hockey post-season magic carpet ride on Friday night as Matt Weninger came through with another tremendous performance in goal and Greg Carey scored two more goals, including the game winner at 16:28 of overtme as the Saints upset nationally third ranked Yale 4-3 at Ingalls Rink in game one of a best-of-three playoff series.
Yale, ranked third nationally in the polls and number one in the Pairwise Rating system, lost last season to 12th-seeded Brown in the quarterfinal round of the ECAC tournament. The Bulldogs went into Friday's game one ranked first nationally in win percent, first in scoring and fifth nationally in defense. Yale also went into Friday's game unbeaten in its last five...the last loss coming to the Saints 3-2 at Appleton on Feb. 11...and nearly perfect at home at 15-0-1. The Saints won their third straight road playoff game and handed Yale its first home loss of the season.
St. Lawrence, now 13-20-5, will try to close the series and advance to the ECAC semifinals for the third straight year with a win on Saturday night. Yale, 23-6-1, will try to keep its ECAC playoff run alive with a game two win to force a deciding game three on Sunday.
"That was a great effort on the part of our guys," said Saint coach Joe Marsh. "To walk in here and come from behind to win against a team of this caliber really says something about the way we are playing right now. The guys don't want it to end, and we'll need another tremendous effort on Saturday...we're just going to keep going as long as we can."
Nic Vangog started the game winning play in overtime as he worked the puck free and sent Kyle Flanagan into the Yale zone. Flanagan made a good move at the blue line to get around a defender and keep control of the puck and then snapped a pass across to Carey who fired the puck past Yale goalie Ryan Rondeau to end it with 3:32 to go in the first overtime. It was Carey's 23rd goal of the season and his fifth of the playoffs including a big one earlier in the game.
The Saints got off to a great start with a little luck thrown in, but Yale's potent power play responded to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 first period lead.
It went to 3-1 in the second before the Saints staged a third period rally to force overtime. Aaron Bogosian made it a 3-2 game at 6:27 of the third when he picked up the carom when his first shot was blocked by a defender and sent the puck back along the ice and inside the far post for his 14th of the year with Nick Pitsikoulis and Jordan Dewey assisting. The Saint power play, which had struggled on its first three chances of the game, then cashed in to tie it at 13:47 when Sean Flanagan fed Carey at the top of the left faceoff circle and Carey launched one which went just under the crossbar, sending the goalie's water bottle high in the air to make it a 3-3 game with Nic Vangog also assisting.
St. Lawrence had a great first shift, getting three shots on goal in the first 45 seconds and then scored on the shift change. Yale picked up the puck and sent it up ice as the Saints were changing, but freshman defenseman Pat Raley intercepted the clear and send a dipping shot toward goal which slipped past Yale goalie Ryan Rondeau for Raley's first collegiate goal at 0:53.
The Yale power play, which ranks fifth in Division I at 23.6 percent, erased the Saint lead and put the Bulldogs in front, going two-for-two in the first period. Senior Denny Kearney scored the first power play goal, his 14th of the year, when he redirected a pass from Broc Little past Weninger after a Saint defender was picked to create the scoring chance at 3:10 and defenseman Jimmy Martin pinched in from the point and was all alone in front to score his sixth of the year from Kearney and Little at 8:15. Yale later had a shot by Kevin Limbert rattle off the crossbar, a play that was later reviewed and confirmed as no goal, while the Saints had a shot by Greg Carey on a power play go off the glove of Rondeau and drift just wide of the post in the final minute.
Yale made it three-for-three on the power play 1:02 into its first opportunity of the second period as Martin scored his second of the game, again pinching in from the point and scoring from between the faceoff circles from Little and Brendan Mason at 3:58. The Saint power play, on the other hand, could not get untracked through the first two periods and Weninger had to make a shorthanded breakaway save on Little to keep it a 3-1 game midway through the second.
Weninger finished with 31 saves for his third straight post-season win and while the save count wasn't as high as his win at Princeton in game three, the quality of the saves was as good or better. Rondeau made 25 saves for Yale.