CANTON — It had been a long time since St. Lawrence gave goalie Matt Weninger four goals to work with in an ECAC Hockey regular season game.
So long, in fact, that Weninger wasn't sure if it had ever happened. That isn't the case anymore as St. Lawrence defeated Harvard, 4-3, in front of 1,517 fans Saturday in Appleton Arena. It moved the Saints into a tie for second place in the conference.
The last time Weninger was given four goals in an ECAC regular season game was Nov. 6, 2010, when SLU beat Colgate 4-1.
“We kind of held on again today,” he said. “It was certainly nice to get the support tonight and hold on and squeak one out.”
The scoring was a welcomed change, especially after losing top-scorer Kyle Flanagan to what associate head coach Mike Hurlbut called an “upper body injury” the night before. Hurlbut added that Flanagan will likely miss next weekend's games with Michigan Tech.
The Saints (4-6-0 overall, 4-2-0 ECAC) didn't seem too fazed against Harvard (2-3-1). The freshmen found ways to score and accounted for three of SLU's four goals and five of the team's 12 points.
“Those guys have really started playing well,” Hurlbut said. “They came from the best junior league in North America, but it's still an adjustment and they're starting to make that adjustment nicely.”
Gunnar Hughes highlighted the freshmen onslaught with his first career goal with a shot from the point that, when he took it, didn't appear like it could get through all the players in front of the goal. It turned out to be the game-winner at 11 minutes, 52 seconds of the third.
“I just threw it (on net) to be honest,” he said. “I was just hoping something good would happen.”
The goal punctuated a very different third period from the night before, when the Saints lost to Dartmouth, 3-1.
Against Harvard, St. Lawrence didn't relent in its attack even after the Crimson tied it at 3-3 at 8:20 of the third.
The Saints took 11 shots in the period, including Hughes' game-winner.
“The guys battled through,” Hurlbut said. “We had a great response from a game last night that we thought we took a step back in our progress here. We made up for it tonight.”
Freshman Chris Martin contributed a career-high two goals. He had just three points in St. Lawrence's first nine games.
Martin tied the game at 1-1 with a power-play goal at 7:19 of the third and gave the Saints a 3-2 lead at 10:18 of the second.
“It's more important to get the team win, but it's nice to contribute two goals,” Martin said. “We got more pucks to the net, crashed the net and a few more goals went in for us.”
Jacob Drewiske was the only non-freshman to score, coming at 14:49 of the first.
Even with all the scoring, the Saints gave up two power-play goals. One went to Patrick McNally and another to Danny Biega. And when Dan Ford knotted it at 3-3, the Saints were in danger of another heartbreaking loss.
Weninger didn't let that happen. He made one save with his stick while sprawled on his stomach and another by diving across the crease to snare a shot with his glove. He finished with 30 saves.
“It's better to do it that way than not hold on at all,” Weninger said. “You certainly don't want to fall to 1-3 in conference at home. To get that fourth conference win was huge for down the stretch.”
Martin's first goal