By DANIEL J. CASSAVAUGH
CANTON — St. Lawrence goalie Robby Moss knew it. So did the 1,362 fans who witnessed St. Lawrence's 3-2 win over No. 2 Yale at Appleton Arena on Friday.
That was a big one.
“That's one of my biggest accomplishments in hockey,” Moss said of his spectacular 31-save performance. “I just kind of took a step back. It's something I've always dreamed about doing.”
Shortly after the final horn sounded, Moss found himself on the on the bottom of a pile of Saints. He had been the wall in front of St. Lawrence's net, keeping Yale's potent offense of 4.35 goals per game at bay. He snared a puck fluttering on the goal line while on his back, stuffed open looks from just outside the crease and gloved wristers from Yale's snipers. Only two found the net, and Moss gave St. Lawrence a chance to tell ECAC Hockey and the nation to not discount the Saints.
“Whether you're first place in the league, last place or 10th place, anybody can beat anybody,” Moss said. “No game's going to be easy.”
Moss has started St. Lawrence's last four games, which included his first career shutout and 2-1-1 record. He has emerged as an anchor while St. Lawrence's freshman class develops consistency and the veterans continue to lead the scoring.
“I'm just very proud of every guy in that room,” said St. Lawrence head coach Joe Marsh, who returned from a two-week absence while recovering from a January medical procedure. “Since I've been gone, you come back and see it in a different light. We're a much better hockey team than a month ago.”
Against Yale, it was the seniors again answering Marsh's call. Sean Flanagan, who took a game disqualification and was subsequently suspended by the league after the last game with Yale, scored the game's first goal only 1 minute, 8 seconds into the first period.
Then, it was senior Nick Pitsikoulis who stuffed in a rebound for a 2-0 St. Lawrence lead at 13:07 of the first.
“They worked harder than us,” Yale coach Keith Allain said. “They looked quicker than us and they deserved to win.”
Yale couldn't figure out St. Lawrence's active defense, or Moss. The Bulldogs failed to score on four power plays, including one in the third period that would have swung the momentum. Despite out shooting the Saints 33-24, the Bulldogs managed only six shots during the man-advantage.
“I think one power play, we had a number of chances and their goal tender did well,” Allain said. “But the other three we weren't very effective.”
Yale did manage to threaten the lead in the second period when Andrew Miller scored to make it 2-1 at 15:56. But Aaron Bogosian, another St. Lawrence senior, responded at 18:20 to put the Saints back up by two.
“It was big goal,” Bogosian said. “It was a great goal for all of us.”
It proved enough to give St. Lawrence its second victory of the year over the No. 2 team in the country. The Saints beat then-No. 2 New Hampshire, 2-1, on the road on Jan. 2.
“When you're there everyday, you don't always notice the incremental things,” Marsh said of the team's improvement. “The overall energy over the last three weeks has been really fun to watch. That was the most enjoyable hockey game I've been part of in a long time.”
It may have also been the victory needed to string together wins, and position the Saints to be a terrifying opponent in the postseason, especially if Moss continues to play at his current level.
“Coach always says it's not where you are, it's where you are going,” Moss said. “These last five games have been the most consistent I've played since I've been here. This was the biggest game of my career.”
Joe Marsh post game sit down