Saints grab home ice spot with 3-1 win at Dartmouth
Kyle Flanagan and George Hughes scored goals 1:47 apart late in the first period and Matt Weninger came through with a series of big third period saves as St. Lawrence University's men's hockey team clinched a home ice berth in the opening round of next week's ECAC Hockey playoffs with a 3-1 win at Dartmouth Saturday night.
The Saints, who completed a 6-2-0 run through the month of February to dig their way out of a tie for last, finish the regular season at 14-17-3 overall and 10-11-1 in league play. Dartmouth is 11-14-4, 8-11-3 after a final weekend split and could be the Saint opponent in the first round depending upon late results on Saturday."With home ice on the line we had to play that just like a playoff game, and I thought we did an excellent job of it," said Saint associate head coach Mike Hurlbut. "We were very solid defensively and Matt Weninger did a tremendous job in goal."
Weninger finished with 28 saves, 11 of them in the third period, and got a little help in the second period when Dartmouth hit two posts to help the Saints to the win and the home berth.
Flanagan opened the scoring at 15:24 of the first period when his hard slap shot off the top of the right wing circle off a Greg Carey pass beat Dartmouth goalie Jodie O'Neill cleanly. It was Flanagan's 14th goal of the year and his 98th career point. Hughes made it a 2-0 game at 17:11 when he finished off a give and go with Kyle Essery with his fourth goal of the season. Hughes sent Essery into the Dartmouth zone and Essery dropped the puck back to Hughes at the top of the left faceoff circle. Hughes' shot banked in off the inside of the far post for his fourth of the season.
Dartmouth cut it to a 2-1 game on the only power play of the game as Brandon McNally scored his 10th of the year, rapping a rebound into the net after Weninger stopped Eric Robinson's original shot, but the rebound hit a Saint defender and went right to McNally at 2:07 of the second.
The rest was a solid defensive effort by the Saints with Weninger protecting the lead with two big saves with 3:05 to go in regulation. Dartmouth pulled O'Neill for an extra attacker with 1:03 to go, but a great hustle play by Chris Martin set up the Saints' first empty net goal of the year and sealed the win. George Hughes sent the puck out of the zone and Martin outraced a Dartmouth player to the faceoff dots in the Dartmouth end to negate an icing call. Martin then fed Gunnar Hughes who walked out in front of the goal and tucked a backhand home for his fourth of the year at 19:50.