Sean Flanagan made a spectacular return to NCAA hockey after a year away from the game while recuperating from surgery, scoring two goals and setting up two others as St. Lawrence University skated to a 5-5 tie at Minnesota State Mankato in the official season opener for both teams Friday night.
Flanagan, who had not played a NCAA game since late in the 2008-09 season and had not scored a goal since the 2007-08 season, pulled the Saints even with his second of the night with 3:56 to go in regulation time and junior goaltender Robby Moss came up with two huge saves in the extra period to keep it tied.
While the game included the usual early-season mistakes on the part of both teams, the crowd of 3343 had to come away entertained as the two teams traded flurries of shots in a end-to-end game. The Mavericks ended up with a 49-31 edge in shots on goal and went one for two on the power play while the Saints were three for five with the man advantage.
The Saints took a 4-2 lead into the third period, but the Mavericks scored two goals in a span of 1:38 to tie the game and took a lead at the 10:38 mark before Flanagan tied it again at 16:06 with his second of the night, tipping a shot from the point by sophomore defenseman George Hughes past MSU goalie Phil Cook.
"We saw some good things out there tonight and our line of Aaron Bogosian and the Flanagan brothers obviously had a huge night," said Saint coach Joe Marsh. "There is obviously a lot of work to do, but battling back to tie after they took it to us early in the third period is big."
The Saints opened the scoring on the first power play chance of the season as Sean and Kyle Flanagan worked the puck down low with Sean sending a pass from behind the net to defenseman Pete Child at the top of the left faceoff circle. Child snapped off a shot which caught inside the far post and just under the crossbar at 7:14 to give the Saints the 1-0 lead. The Mavericks came back to tie it when freshman Corey Leivermann cut out in front and tucked his first collegiate goal past Moss at 10:25, but the Saints regained the lead less than two minutes later when Bogosian scored his first of the year on a power play from point blank range with the Flanagan brothers again assisting at 12:04.
The Mavericks tied the game at 2-2 7:09 into the second period as Michael Dorr scored on a power play deflection of a shot from the point by Kurt Davis, but the Saints came back to regain the lead when Jake Drewiske took the puck through the neutral zone, drew a defender toward him and then put a perfect pass on the stick of Max Mobley who put his second career goal over Cook's shoulder at 12:36. It went to 4-2 early in a five-minute major power play as Hughes took a shot from the point and Flanagan tipped it at the side of the net with Child also assisting at the 15:00 mark.
Minnesota State came out flying to start the third as made it a 4-3 game only 38 seconds into the period when Justin Jokinen raced up the middle and banked one in off the far post. The Mavericks tied it when the Saints turned the puck over behind their own net and Eli Zuck tucked it in from right in front of Moss at 1:38 and they took the lead at 10:38 when Mike Louwerse scored on a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle.
Both teams had their chances in the overtime with Moss making six of his 44 saves in the extra period. He robbed Dorr with 1:40 to go, reaching across with his stick to keep the puck out of the empty net, and made another huge save on Andrew Sackrison with 34 seconds left to preserve the tie.
The two teams will square off again at 7 p.m. central time on Saturday.