CANTON Following a disappointing overtime loss the previous night, the St. Lawrence University hockey team willed its way to a victory and ended its recent woes against Union College.
The Saints struck for three unanswered goals in the first period, junior winger Jeremy Wick scored a pivotal tally midway through the third period and junior goalie Matt Weninger made 39 saves as St. Lawrence defeated Union, 4-2 in an ECAC tussle on Saturday night before a crowd of 1,362 at Appleton Arena.
St. Lawrence (13-11-4, 6-6-4) snapped a seven-game losing skid against the Dutchmen, winning for the first time against No. 18 Union (13-10-5, 6-6-4) in five seasons, with the last victory dating back to February 2009.
Its a real big win, said Saints junior winger Greg Carey, who scored his nation-leading 20th goal. I think this is a good step for this program and were headed in the right direction. We know we can compete the best they made the Frozen Four last year. Now we just have to keep it going.
By recording a weekend split, St. Lawrence, which is 5-1-2 over its past eight games, moved back into fifth place in the ECAC, tied with Union and Dartmouth, although the Saints currently have the tiebreaker against both teams.
Its a nice bounce-back win, said St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel said, because for a stretch now weve been playing well and (Friday) night was an unfortunate way to lose. We came back with the real positive frame of mind that we came into the weekend with.
Carey, Wick and Gunnar Hughes each scored a power-play goal for St. Lawrence, which tallied three man-advantage goals for the second consecutive night after they were edged by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 4-3 in overtime on Friday.
They have such good team speed and they did a good job keeping us off guard, Union coach Rick Bennett said. And when you take that many penalties, theyre going to look even faster. I thought we were playing the 1980 Edmonton Oilers out there. ... thats an excellent team hockey team.
In this meeting, Union drew within 3-2 with successive power-play goals, including Daniel Carrs tally 2:25 into the third period after Wick had been sent off for tripping.
Wick was able to redeem himself as he drove in on the Union net and sent a shot between goalie Troy Grosenicks pads at 9:46 of the third period to provide the Saints with a two-goal lead they wont relinquish this time.
That was a heck of an effort by Jeremy Wick to get that two-goal lead back and from there I thought we did a pretty good job, Carvel said of Wick, who is riding a seven-game goal streak, as is linemate Carey. I was a little upset with him before that because on the first shift of the third period he turned the puck over and took a penalty which allowed them to score and get back into the game.
It was real exciting, Wick said. We werent too disappointed after that overtime loss ... but we found a way to get it done tonight.
Weninger stopped 17 of 18 shots faced in the third period to secure the win for the Saints.
With Matt, we expect him to come up big and he did that tonight for us, Carvel said.
Carey opened the scoring 12:19 into the game while on the power play by taking a cross-ice pass from defenseman Justin Baker and ripping a shot from the right faceoff circle past goalie Grosenick.
Tonight, guys came out hard and we really wanted it, Carey said. We hadnt beaten them before theyre a good strong team and this is definitely good for our self confidence.
Sophomore winger Tommy Thompson provided St. Lawrence with a 2-0 lead as he converted on a long Kyle Essery rebound by firing the puck into the open left side of the goal at 16:14 to chase the Union goalie.
Thats how we need to start every game, Hughes said. We took all our energy from last night and just kept it up.
Hughes followed with his power-play goal at 18:56 by slipping a rebound of a Chris Martin shot under goalie Colin Stevens as St. Lawrence converted on two of first three man-advantage chances.
Mat Brodie followed with his power-play goal at 15:34 of the second period and Carr lifted a shot over Weningers right shoulder at 2:25 of the third with seven seconds left in the man advantage, for Union, which was swept on its annual north country trek for the first time in four seasons.
The Saints, who recorded their first victory against a team in the ECACs top four, will get a chance to follow this up as they play at No. 2-ranked Quinnipiac on Friday and at Princeton on Saturday.
n NOTES: St. Lawrence is now 5-0-2 when scoring the games first three goals, but had tied their last two games when this occurred. ... Saints defenseman Jordan Dewey sat out the game, with freshman Ross McMullen taking his place on the blue line.