Kyle Flanagan and George Hughes scored goals less than two minutes apart and Matt Weninger helped stymie a late Dartmouth charge to give St. Lawrence a 3-1 win to secure home ice in the ECAC Hockey playoffs next weekend.
The Saints (14-17-3 overall, 10-11-1 ECAC) completed the season on a 6-2-0 run and ascended from last place in the conference to the final home playoff spot. Dartmouth, meanwhile, finished ninth in the conference standings and will travel to SLU for the first-round series.
“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,” SLU associate head coach Mike Hurlbut said. “We were very solid defensively and Matt Weninger did a tremendous job in goal.”
Weninger finished with 28 saves, 11 in the third period, and had help in second period when Dartmouth clanged two posts.
Flanagan opened the scoring at 15 minutes, 24 seconds of the first period when his hard slap shot off the top of the right wing circle off a Greg Carey. 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 for 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 2-1 on the game’s only power play when Brandon McNally scored his 10th of the year, rapping a rebound into the net after Weninger stopped Eric Robinson’s original shot.
The rest was a solid defensive effort by the Saints with Weninger making two big saves inside of four minutes to play.
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 won a footrace to avoid 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.