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RIT rallies past St. Lawrence, 4-3

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CANTON — Unfortunately for St. Lawrence’s hockey team, it rang in the New Year with echoes of the way it finished 2012 – yet another loss.

The Saints built an early two-goal lead only to squander the advantage as Rochester Institute of Technology rallied with two goals in the third period, with Adam Hartley scoring the game-winner with 1 minute, 30 seconds left, to edge St. Lawrence, 4-3 on Friday night in a nonconference game before 1,126 at Appleton Arena.

St. Lawrence (7-9-2), coming off its holiday break and despite a strong start to the game, suffered its fifth consecutive loss.

The Saints, who have now also dropped three straight nonleague games, haven’t won in more than a month — and have only won twice in their past 12 games (2-8-2).

“This is obviously frustrating,” said Saints senior captain Kyle Flanagan, who returned to the lineup after missing the previous game because of injury. “This is four games know where we thought we were playing well, and we got away from it. We’ve got to learn sooner than later because we’re in the second half the year now.”

The team’s current slide doesn’t concern St. Lawrence head coach Greg Carvel as much as the way it finished the game against RIT (5-8-4).

“I know everybody says our record is the most important thing,” Carvel said. “But I’m more concerned with how we play. I liked the way we played against Vermont (on Dec. 15) a lot and we lost that game. We played well for 40 minutes, but we played poorly for the last 20 minutes.”

With the Saints leading 4-3, the Tigers scored twice within the game’s final four minutes as Zander Kuqali ripped a shot past goaltender Matt Weninger for the tying goal at 15:56.

“It definitely a tough loss,” assistant captain George Hughes said. “In the third period, we had some breakdowns and bad bounces — but we were making the wrong plays at the wrong time. ... They played well against us ... but we have to find a way to finish.”

Hartley followed with the deciding goal, deflecting a Kuqali drive past Weninger at 18:30, for the Tigers, who are unbeaten in their past four games (3-0-1).

“I thought we played better in the second period and then we had a great third period,” RIT coach Wayne Wilson said. “I think we were rewarded for our hard work — that doesn’t always happen — we just had to be patient and we were.”

The Saints appeared more aggressive in getting shots off by setting the tone in the first 40 minutes. They started by outshooting the Tigers, 13-4, and had a 30-15 edge through two periods.

“This was the first time we had everybody healthy and back in the lineup,” Carvel said. “We had a good week of practice and we were energized and came out that way — but those turnovers were costly.”

But, St. Lawrence, 0-4-1 in its past five home games, was outshot 15-5 in the decisive third.

Kyle Essery scored twice and Patrick Doherty added a short-handed goal for the Saints, while Sean McGovern had three assists.

The Saints again host RIT at 7 tonight.

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