CANTON — St. Lawrence hockey set a goal before Friday’s season-opener against visiting Ferris State: Play disciplined and don’t take more than two penalties.
Neither happened, and Ferris State used two power-play goals en route to a 4-2 nonconference victory in front of 1,606 fans at Appleton Arena.
The Saints took nine penalties and spent 14 minutes, 21 seconds playing at least one man down.
“Eight of them were probably bad penalties on our part,” associate head coach Mike Hurlbut said. “And they came at bad times. It doesn’t matter if it’s Ferris State, Cornell or Yale, if you’re in the penalty box it’s going to be tough to win games.”
It grew out of control in the wild second period, during which the Saints took five momentum-killing penalties.
Just 37 seconds after Jordan Dewey gave St. Lawrence a 1-0 advantage, Justin Baker went to penalty box for tripping. Before Baker exited, Rick Carden marched to the box after colliding violently with Taylor Nelson, the Ferris State goalie.
“It kind of slowed everything down,” Dewey said. “We have to learn from what we did wrong and put a whole game together instead of just a few minutes.”
TJ Schlueter knotted the game at 1-1 while Carden watched from the box.
The Saints still escaped the second tied despite taking two more penalties in the period. But having the penalty killing unit on the ice for that long had its negative effects.
“You can’t keep the motivation going and the energy going when you’re killing a penalty,” St. Lawrence forward Kyle Flanagan said. “We had five-minute stretches where we were clearly the better team. Then we did something like take a penalty.”
The discipline didn’t improve in the third. Sean Logue took the team’s seventh penalty less than three minutes into the final session. Travis Ouellette took advantage with a power-play goal at 3:21 to put the Bulldogs in front for good.
“We just had to keep a level head,” Ouellette said. “You don’t want to get caught up in (the penalties). Once you get caught up in that, you’re head’s gone. We had to focus on the game to accomplish what we did.”
St. Lawrence did show some spark late in the third when Flanagan scored off a rebound to make it 3-2 with 3:41 left to play. He finished with a goal and one assist.
The Saints pulled goalie Matt Weninger with 1:16 left for the extra attacker, but couldn’t keep control of the puck long enough to get away a good shot.
Ouellette stole one away in the neutral zone and flicked it into the empty net with 12 seconds on the clock to seal the victory.
“We want to hold guys accountable,” Hurlbut said. “We can yell and rant and rave at them, but they have to hold each other accountable. That’s one of our big themes this year is accountability and discipline. We didn’t see that tonight.”
Even with all the time spent on the penalty kill, the Saints outshot Ferris State, 25-21. St. Lawrence’s top returning scorer, Greg Carey had several clean looks, but couldn’t get one by Nelson.
“Greg’s just got to keep shooting and he knows it,” Hurlbut said. “I think a couple looked like he would score for sure, but they’re not all going to go in.”
Carey still finished with two points, assisting both St. Lawrence goals. The Saints and Bulldogs conclude their two-game series at 4:30 p.m. today at Appleton Arena.