Rensselaer senior defenseman Nick Bailen scored one goal and set up two others as the Engineers eliminated any possibility of a St. Lawrence first-round bye in the upcoming ECAC Hockey playoffs with a 4-1 win at Houston Field House in Troy Saturday night.
The Saints went into Saturday's final regular season game with four different seeding possibilities and 12 different ways to get there. They had the possibility of finishing as high as third with a win and the right combination of other results, and could go no lower than sixth. The combination of wins by Yale and Union and a loss by Dartmouth left the Saints in sixth after the dust of Saturday night's final regular season games finished and SLU will host Colgate in a best of three series at Appleton Arena starting Friday night.
SLU, 16-14-4 overall and 9-9-4 in the ECAC has now lost three in a row and played the weekend games without captain Kyle Flanagan who is doubtful for next weekend's series while recuperating from an appendix operation. Flanagan was missed as the Saints managed only 20 shots and one goal per game in the weekend series at Union and RPI.
Bailen gave RPI a 1-0 lead just 2:04 into the game as the defenseman scored his 12th of the year on a scramble in front of the goal in which Saint goalie Matt Weninger had his stick knocked out of his hands. The Engineers nearly made it 2-0 just seconds later when they banged a shot off the inside of the post, but Weninger, who had 20 saves in the first two periods, kept it a one-goal game.
The Saints tied the game with a power play goal 13:46 into the second as junior wing Greg Carey scored his 26th of the season from the center slot.Senior defenseman George Hughes and Jeremy Wick assisted on the goal with Hughes earning his 100th career point on the play.
RPI came right back to take a 2-1 lead when junior Brock Higgs got the puck when Carey was tackled on a Saint power play at center ice and Higgs broke in on Weninger, tucking his first goal of the year past the Saint goalie at 15:01. It was the first shorthanded goal allowed by the Saints this season.
The Engineers put it away with a pair of third period goals as Travis Fulton scored his second of the year as Mark Miller won a race to the puck along the end boards and sent it out in front for Fulton at 10:48 and Johnny Rogic scored his third of the season after a turnover in the neutral zone, rifling a shot off the crossbar and in for a 4-1 lead at 14:58.
Weninger made 22 saves before giving way to freshman Kyle MacDonald, who did not see a shot in the final 5:02. RPI freshman Jason Kasdorf finished with 19 saves for the Engineers.