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SLU unable to close deal; Clarkson falls

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CANTON — The Saints talked earlier in the week about preparing for close games throughout the grind of their ECAC Hockey campaign.

That’s just what the Princeton and St. Lawrence hockey teams delivered on Friday night with a physical and up-tempo game.

Tyler Maugeri scored twice, including the tying goal in the third period as the Tigers rallied to post a 3-3 draw against the 16th-ranked Saints before a turnout of 1,253 at Appleton Arena.

“I’m really proud of our guys with how hard they played and how they were extremely resilient,” said Princeton coach Bob Prier, a former player and assistant coach at St. Lawrence. “I thought we ran into some penalty trouble there and this was test of character for our guys to get a point on the road against what is a very, very good hockey team.”

For the second consecutive Friday, St. Lawrence (5-2-2, 0-1-2) squandered a multiple-goal advantage only to settle for a point, this time in its conference home opener.

“We’re a little disappointed because we couldn’t close it out,” Saints senior defenseman and assistant captain George Hughes said. “We didn’t take advantage of our opportunities, but you’ve got to give them credit for battling hard and coming back.”

The Saints can’t say they didn’t have opportunities late in the game as they had four power plays after the second period, including a two-man advantage of one minute, 22 seconds in the third period — as well as a power play of 1:44 to close out the overtime. St. Lawrence finished 1-for-8 on the power play.

“It’s as tough one,” St. Lawrence junior Greg Carey said, “any time you play against Princeton, they’re always going to come at you hard. They’re a good team and I think for us we’re a little disappointed in ourselves because we had our chances.”

Carey had provided the Saints with a 3-2 lead by finishing off a 2-on-1 break with Tommy Thompson 5:26 into the third period.

Then Maugeri, who had scored the tying goal late in the second period, and the Tigers (2-2-1, 2-0-1) went back to work as the sophomore right wing drilled his own rebound past goalie Matt Weninger (23 saves) at 11:40 of the third.

“This was huge for us because this shows the character of our team,” Maugeri said. “This shows that we never stop, even when we were down — we were methodical with our play. That’s one thing that we focus on is not changing our game whether we’re up or down.”

Weninger kept it a tie game with timely saves on several occasions, including denying Eric Meland’s deflection bid with 2:21 left in regulation.

“I think maybe we deserved a better fate, but I think we’re still learning how to win,” St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel said. “This was similar to the Brown game and I still think we can be better by making less mistakes with the puck.”

Meanwhile, Princeton, which swept Cornell and Colgate last weekend, remains unbeaten in ECAC Hockey play.

Carey and Chris Martin each tallied a goal and an assist for St. Lawrence, which blew a three-goal lead in a 3-3 tie at Brown last Friday.

“Watching them on tape, we knew that they were a good hockey team and that it was going to be a close game,” Carvel said of Princeton. “It’s a little frustrating because we had a 2-0 lead and hit a post where we could have extended that lead. And it’s also a little frustrating that we feel that we’re giving teams too much. They scored on a couple turnovers and capitalized when they had to.”

After building a 2-0 lead in the first period on a goal each from Martin, who scored one minute into the game, and George Hughes, the Saints allowed Princeton to draw even in the second period.

Princeton defenseman Michael Sdao scored on the power play with 11.9 seconds remaining in the first period on a long-range drive from just inside the blue line.

The Saints held the Tigers off until Maugeri scored at 16:58 of the second period for a 2-2 tie.

“We battled hard, too, but we didn’t get it done on special teams,” Hughes said.

“We had a bunch of power-play opportunities,” Carey said. “We hit posts, guys fanned on some open nets. We were moving the puck well, it was just one of those games where special teams weren’t going our way.”

nNOTES: The Saints host Quinnipiac in a 4 p.m. start today. …Hughes’ goal was his first of the season. ... Saints’ junior defenseman Justin Baker now has an assist in each of his past four games. … St. Lawrence, which won both games against Princeton last season, leads the all-time series 63-21-10.

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