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SLU hockey seeking consistency on ice

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CANTON — Well after St. Lawrence’s game against Clarkson had ended on Wednesday night, Greg Carey was among a handful of Saints still sitting in their locker stalls.

After a suffering a decisive 4-1 loss to their archrival, Carey was still processing the setback in ECAC Hockey play.

“That was a tough one,” said Carey, a junior winger. “It’s always tough when you lose to Clarkson, but we still get to play them twice more. We’re going to put this behind us and we’re definitely looking for redemption.”

Now the Saints (7-6-2) will try and accomplish this goal when they tangle with the Golden Knights (3-7-5) again in a nonleague meeting in the Festivus Face-Off at 7:30 p.m, Saturday at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid.

“We were obviously frustrated with the way we played,” St. Lawrence senior captain Kyle Flanagan said. “You don’t want to lose in your own barn to your rival, especially like that. So we’re going to be geared up and ready for Saturday.”

Despite winning five of its first six games, St. Lawrence is still striving to find consistency this season.

“We’ve got to find a way to be more consistent,” St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel said. “It’s unacceptable the way we started the game, but they came out and played real well in the first period.

“But how can we play so poorly in the first period and then play so well in the second period? They were aggressive and played physical from the start and we didn’t start doing that until the second period.”

Wednesday’s outcome was the fifth consecutive loss by St. Lawrence to Clarkson in conference play.

“That was real tough,” Saints junior goalie Matt Weninger said. “We haven’t beaten then in the league since I got here. This is frustrating because we know we’re a better team.”

While the loss to Clarkson marks the first time the Saints have been beaten in two straight games this campaign, they’ve fared only 2-5-2 since starting league play in early November.

“We’ve got to find a way to step it up right now,” Weninger said. “We’ve done things in spurts, like two periods here, two periods there or game here, a game there. We’ve got to get that consistency back.”

While the Golden Knights are tied for fourth place in the ECAC, St. Lawrence has gotten off to a disappointing 1-4-2 start in the league, sitting in 10th place.

The Saints fell behind 3-0 on Wednesday, including yielding two goals in the first period.

“We had a lot of positives from the game last night,” Flanagan said. “Other than the first period and a couple lapses, we felt we played 45 good minutes of hockey. But obviously you can’t come out flat like that in the first period and let them get two goals. They played well for 60 minutes and we’ve got to match that.”

St. Lawrence, which prides itself on special teams, was only 1-for-6 on the power play against Clarkson, and failed to convert on all three of its man-advantages in the third period.

“Their penalty kill did a real nice job against us,” Carvel said. “We were trying to be a little too pretty on our power play and we’ve got to get in a focus of getting more pucks to the net.”

“We’re still a top-10 power play in the country,” Flanagan said. “And our penalty kill is still doing real well. So our special teams are still going well and we count on our power play to cash in when we get chances. Watching some video, there were some openings that we didn’t take advantage of, so we have to do better on Saturday night.”

The Saints get another crack at the Golden Knights, who have won five of the past six meetings.

After losing to Clarkson, 5-3, in an ECAC encounter last season on Dec. 6, the Saints rebounded with a 4-1 victory over their rival on Dec. 10 in Lake Placid.

“We need to be the team that we’ve shown we can be,” Weninger said.

SAINTS’ SATURDAY FUNK

St. Lawrence has struggled on Saturday nights, faring 2-5-0, including four straight losses.

All five losses have come to national-ranked teams — Western Michigan (tied for seventh in the country), Yale (15th), Quinnipiac (13th), Boston University (tied for 7th) and Cornell (11th).

In contrast, the Saints are unbeaten on Friday nights at 5-0-2.

NORTH COUNTRY RIVALS

While St. Lawrence and Clarkson have split the past two meetings in Lake Placid, the Golden Knights edged the Saints, 4-3, in the 1999 ECAC championship game at the Olympic arena.

Saturday’s game will be the 191st meeting between the two programs, with the Golden Knights holding a 117-65-9 advantage.

The Golden Knights are the Saints’ most played opponent in St. Lawrence history, with the rivalry dating back to 1925.

Clarkson holds a 10-5-0 edge in games played on neutral ice.

Sportswriter Chris Fitz Gerald covers St. Lawrence University hockey for the Times. He can be reached at cfitzgerald@wdt.net

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