By Daniel J. Cassavaugh
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – St. Lawrence’s magical run through the ECAC Hockey playoffs ended with a 4-0 loss to a faster, more skilled and experienced Yale team in Game 3 of a quarterfinal series Sunday at Ingalls Rink.
The second-seeded Bulldogs (25-6-1 overall) advanced to the ECAC semifinals where they will face No. 12 Colgate, which shocked top-seeded Union to make the championship weekend.
St. Lawrence (13-22-5) enters the offseason with mixed emotions. The season ended with the school’s 22nd loss. But the Saints managed an upset series win against No. 6 Princeton in the first round and had Yale on the brink of elimination with a Game 1 triumph on Friday.
“We have to respect the fact that we put (Yale) in a desperate situation and they responded,” SLU coach Joe Marsh said. “It wasn’t an abysmal year. It really wasn’t. I think we made significant improvements.”
St. Lawrence wasn’t supposed to beat Yale. It shouldn’t have even had a chance at Yale. And in Game 3, Yale asserted its dominance by out shooting the Saints 42-21 and taking advantage of two early power plays for a 2-0 lead.
“I have confidence in our kill and I have confidence in our power play,” Yale coach Keith Allain said. “We’re good. We have a veteran group with a lot of different experiences and I think that helped.”
Yale controlled the puck and sustained offensive zone pressure all game. At times, the Bulldogs made one substitution at a time instead of the usual shift change.
Chris Cahill started the scoring at two minutes, 41 seconds of the first on a power play. Brian O’Neill tacked on a second power-play score at 7:24 and Yale began to run away with the game as the Saints continued to send players to the penalty box.
“It’s something we’ve said all year,” SLU’s Kyle Flanagan said. “We have to stay out of the box. They scored two and then we took more penalties. That’s two minutes we didn’t have to make a comeback.”
St. Lawrence gave Yale nine power plays, while the Bulldogs killed seven of its own penalties in the wild game.
SLU freshman Greg Carey, who generated five playoff goals this season, didn’t score in Game 2 or 3 against Yale. He had two goals in St. Lawrence’s Game 1 win.
“I just couldn’t get pucks through lanes,” Carey said. “They were on my stick pretty hard. They know how to play, that’s for sure.”
Yale tacked on two more scores in the second period, burying St. Lawrence. Kevin Limbert scored at 4:44 and Broc Little netted his 17th of the year at 5:48. The Bulldogs cruised through the third period to end St. Lawrence’s underdog run.
“Our approach all year has been every game is a must-win,” Allain said. “That’s really helped us. Each and every weekend we get a new group of heroes.”
St. Lawrence couldn’t stop the multitude of scorers. Eight different players scored for Yale in the series. Four different players scored in Game 3.
“We got beat by the better team,” Marsh said. “I like to think the guys leave here was some lessons learned. You don’t win championships in one year.”
NOTES: St. Lawrence goalie Matt Weninger finished with 38 saves… He ends his freshman season with a 7-15-3 overall record. Greg Carey’s 23 goals this season is a St. Lawrence freshman school record… Yale reached a school-record 25 wins with the victory… Yale goalie Ryan Rondeau made 21 saves.