It was a long time in the making, and it almost looked like it wasn't going to happen for a sixth straight game, but St. Lawrence University's men's hockey team finally joined the 1,000 win club in Division I hockey at Appleton Arena Saturday night, fighting off a rally by the Rochester Institute of Technology for a 4-3 win and a split of their weekend series.
Junior center Kyle Essery's third goal of the weekend 6:05 into the third period lifted the Saints to the victory, making the Saints the 16th team among 59 Division I programs nationally to reach the 1000 win mark and the sixth among the dozen members of the ECAC.
Essery's goal was the fourth in a wild start to the third period as RIT took a 3-2 lead with goals 37 seconds apart by junior wing Mike Colavecchio to start the period, but the Saints came right back to tie it 33 seconds after Colavecchio's second goal.
The Saints, who had been stuck on 999 wins since a 4-2 win at Colgate on Nov. 30, snapped a five game losing skid with the win and improve to 8-9-3 on the season. RIT, which won 4-3 in the series opener on Friday saw a four-game unbeaten streak come to an end and drops to 5-9-4 on the year. The Saints also won on Saturday night for the first time in the last seven tries. SLU finished up the non-league portion of the schedule with the RIT series and finished the year 7-5-0 in non-league action, their most wins since the 2008-09 season.
SLU jumped out to a 2-0 lead for the second straight night as sophomore wing Patrick Doherty scored his second of the weekend and fourth of the season on a power play feed from George Hughes at the 8:00 mark of the first period and Hughes' younger brother Gunnar scored his fifth of the season unassisted 4:34 later when he took advantage of a RIT turnover and beat Tiger goalie Josh Watson one-on-one from the faceoff dots.
RIT got back into it when Brad McGowan was credited with his fourth of the season as his shot from the faceoff circle deflected off a Saint defender in front and past Saint goalie Matt Weninger.
Weninger, who turned in a solid effort with 25 saves, kept it a 2-1 game with a breakaway save 5:57 into the second period as neither team could score in the middle period, but they made up for that with a wild start to the third.
Colavecchio scored his first of the night just eight seconds into a RIT power play as he finished off a give and go from Matt Garbowsky at 1:47 of the third and then came racing back down the ice to score his second of the game and put RIT in front at 2:24. Junior wing Jeremy Wick retied the game at 2:57 when he tucked a pass from Kyle Flanagan past Watson and Essery scored the game winner after a big hit by freshman Sean McGovern popped the puck free in the corner and sophomore Tommy Thompson centered the puck to Essery, who tucked it past Watson for his fifth of the season and the game winner at 6:05.
The Saints outshot RIT 39-28 with Watson making 35 saves for the Tigers. SLU was one for five on the power play and allowed one power play goal for RIT in three chances.
The Saints return to ECAC action with Yale and Brown at Appleton Arena on Jan. 11-12.