ITHACA — St. Lawrence’s offensive struggles continued in a 1-0 loss to No. 17 Cornell in front of an ECAC Hockey sellout crowd of 4,267 on Friday at Lynah Rink.
Cornell (7-3-0 overall, 6-1-0 ECAC) remains alone in first place in the conference with 12 points.
For the 24th time in 40 career starts in net, SLU goalie Matt Weninger received less than two goals of support. The Saints didn’t even get away shots for much of the game.
Weninger made 22 saves, many from in close and on quality shots, while the Saints managed only 13 shots against Cornell’s defense. SLU (5-8-0, 4-2-0) had just four shots on goal through the first two periods, despite having three power plays.
“Matt did a tremendous job, and I thought we were pretty solid defensively for the most part,” SLU associate head coach Mike Hurlbut said. “But Cornell did a tremendous job getting their sticks on passes and shots and really bottled us up defensively.”
St. Lawrence was without one of its top defensemen and penalty killers, George Hughes, who is expected to be out of the lineup until the Dartmouth tournament at the end of the month with an upper body injury, according to a university release.
That possibly influenced Cornell’s only goal, coming on a power play at 14 minutes, 18 seconds of the first period. Nick D’Agostino scored his seventh goal of the year, and fifth game-winner, with just three second left on the man-advantage. John Esposito recovered a loose puck in the St. Lawrence zone and fed D’Agostino alone in front for the score.
The Saints almost immediately handed the momentum to Cornell early when enforcer Jeremy Wick was ejected with a game misconduct just two minutes into the game. The Saints managed to kill that five-minute major, but without Wick, the larger Cornell team had little physical resistance.
Combine losing Hughes to injury this week and continuing to play without top-scorer Kyle Flanagan, who has missed four straight games with an upper body injury, with Wick’s ejection and St. Lawrence’s task became that much more daunting.
“We haven’t had too many injuries thus far this season, but the ones we have had are to impact players,” said Hurlbut. “It is a part of the game, and while you never want to see anyone out due to injury, it does open the door for someone else to step up.”
No one did during three power-play opportunities in the first eight minutes of the second period and another two in the third period. The closest the Saints came to tying it came at 8:50 of the second when Peter Child’s shot from the center point glanced off the inside of the post, but stayed out of the net. Officials did not review the call.