The St. Lawrence University women's hockey team overcame a two-goal deficit in the first period and topped Princeton by the score of 4-2 on "Senior Day" at Appleton Arena on Saturday afternoon. Senior captain Kelly Sabatine scored the go-ahead goal with 3:22 remaining in regulation, propelling the Saints to two points in the ECAC Hockey standings.
St. Lawrence improves to 17-11-4 (12-5-3) thanks to four unanswered goals, and is now two points head of Quinnipiac for fourth place in the conference standings. Meanwhile, Princeton was dealt a tough blow after upsetting Clarkson on Friday, and is now 10-15-2 (5-13-1) and is clinging to the last playoff spot heading into the final weekend.
"I was glad to see our resiliency tonight," said St. Lawrence head coach Chris Wells. "It was an entertaining game again and we were able to get a few power play goals to aid the cause. Carmen made some huge stops on the breakaways in the third to keep the game tied and then to preserve the two points."
Though St. Lawrence finished with a 43-28 advantage in shots on goal, sophomore goalie Carmen MacDonald was forced to make several dazzling saves including three breakaway stops in the third period alone to secure the win.
Despite being outshot throughout the first period, Princeton found itself with a 2-0 lead with 2:31 remaining. Ali Pankowski scored a goal on a delayed penalty, as her slap shot from the point beat MacDonald, who was screened by traffic in front, at 14:32. Sally Butler then added her eighth of the season on a rebound off a shot by Olivia Mucha for the 2-0 edge at 17:29. Denna Laing also assisted on Butler's tally.
The Saints would get one back before the first intermission, as rookie Jenna Marks re-directed a shot by Dayle Wilkinson from outside the right circle past Princeton netminder Kimberly Newell at 18:42. Mel Desrochers also assisted on the home team's first goal.
St. Lawrence continued to pressure Newell throughout the second period, and though the rookie goalie made several outstanding saves, Kayla Raniwsky would convert on a scrum in front on the power play at 14:35 to tie the score at 2-2. Abbey McRae and Wilkinson earned helpers on the goal that set up a dramatic third period.
Princeton played its best period of hockey in the third, which led to breakaway chances for Kelly Cooke, Corey Stearns and Mucha. However, MacDonald was up to the task each time and kept the Tigers from adding to their total.
St. Lawrence, which has struggled at times on the power play, converted at its biggest moment of the season with a beautiful goal to take the lead for the first time at 16:38 of the third. After Brianne Mahoney was sent to the Princeton penalty box for tripping with 4:07 to go, senior Brooke Fernandez hit Amanda Boulier with a pass that allowed Boulier to cut to Newell's left. With the defense drifting that way, Boulier crossed a pass to Sabatine in the slot, and she buried another clutch goal, this one the eventual game-winner with 3:22 to play.
The Tigers would get the puck deep into St. Lawrence territory and pulled Newell for the extra skater in the final minute. However, sophomore Jessica Hon chipped it out of the zone to Desrocher, who calmly skated through the neutral zone and fired the puck into the empty net to put the game out of reach and ensure the home team of the victory, 4-2.
Newell made 39 saves in a losing effort on Saturday, while MacDonald made 26 stops to get the win. St. Lawrence closed with a 2-for-6 mark on the power play, while Princeton was 0-for-2.
Following the game, St. Lawrence honored its five members of the Class of 2013, Kelly Sabatine, Brooke Fernandez, Kayla Sullivan, Michelle Ng and captain Jamie Goldsmith. Coach Wells started the five seniors on the opening shift, then came back to the group in the final minute as the fans at Appleton Arena gave them a standing ovation.
The Saints will hit the road for the final two regular season games next weekend, Friday and Saturday, February 22 and 23, at Harvard and Dartmouth.