CANTON – St. Lawrence’s undisciplined play mixed with Minnesota State goalie Phil Cook’s marvelous game proved SLU’s undoing in a 3-1 nonconference loss Saturday at Appleton Arena.
Cook allowed only a Greg Carey goal at 6 minutes, 56 seconds of the third period. He finished with 29 saves and helped the Mavericks kill five penalties against St. Lawrence’s power play, which came in at 20-percent efficiency.
“I didn’t see any prime opportunities for them,” Cook said. “Our guys were able to cut off their passing lanes and shooting lanes. I was able to see the puck.”
The Saints (8-11-2 overall) marched to the penalty box six times, including once for a bench minor when associate head coach Mike Hurlbut said he “got carried away” while arguing for a slashing penalty after a St. Lawrence stick came to the bench in pieces at the end of the second period.
“We’ve got to be smarter and more disciplined,” Hurlbut said. “We didn’t play as well as we needed to. We’re taking steps in the right direction and then falling off a little bit.”
Minnesota State (6-15-1) took advantage of one of the six, coming from Zach Palmquist at 19:42 of the second.
Justin Jokinen scored an even-strength goal off a feed from Evan Mosey at 15:51 of the third that proved to be the game-winner. The Mavericks added an empty-net goal at the final buzzer. All while taking half as many penalties as in a 4-3 loss to the Saints the night before.
“I think that was a big difference in the game,” Mavericks head coach Troy Jutting said. “We did a better job not taking penalties.”
The Mavericks did give the Saints a brief opening. Josh Nelson took a penalty at 10:06 of the third with the score tied at 1-1. On Friday, in a similar situation, the Saints scored twice in less than two minutes to take the lead for good.
It was not to be on Saturday. A loss was the only thing on Cook’s menu for the Saints. He made 11 saves in the final period, including a flurry in the final 20 seconds against an extra attacker.
“I just saw a lot of blocked shots,” Cook said. “Our defense and forward did a great job. (St. Lawrence) got a few through, but our coaches kept telling the guys to win their battles and force their guys out, and that’s what they did.”
Jutting gave a little more credit to Cook.
“He made a lot of nice saves,” Jutting said. “He made big saves at key times in the game.”
Six of Cook’s critical saves came against Carey, who put seven quality shots on net. Cook snared all but one, which was SLU’s only score.
“Our shots had to be perfect (against Cook),” Carey said. “But we have to find a way to beat (goalies like) him.”
The Saints did not and dropped its first game since a 5-3 ECAC loss to Clarkson on Dec. 6. St. Lawrence returns to conference play next weekend when it welcomes Brown and Yale to Appleton Arena.
Carey and the Saints know the unorganized, careless play of their nonconference weekend series with Minnesota State has to change if SLU is to compete for an ECAC Tournament first-round bye or league title.
“We have to be disciplined,” he said. “Our penalty kill is fine and we have guys blocking shots out there. It’s just hard when you have four penalties in a row like that.
“The other team gets a little momentum from that,” Carey added. “It’s tough for the guys on the bench, but you just have to stay focused.”