CANTON Unfortunately for St. Lawrences 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, havent 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. Weve got to learn sooner than later because were in the second half the year now.
The teams current slide doesnt 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 Im 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 games 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 doesnt 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 opened the second half of their season in encouraging fashion, scoring the games first two goals.
We were playing pretty well and had those two short-handed goals, Carvel said. I thought we had the game in control, but then we started to play lackadaisical without the puck and they scored on the opportunities they had.
After Essery finished off a 2-on-1 breakaway with Greg Carey 11:17 into the game, Doherty struck for his short-handed goal as he broke in with McGovern and scored from the left side 2:20 into the second period.
After RIT drew within 2-1 on Anthony Hamburgs tally at 3:56, a goal that was upheld after a video review, Essery followed with his short-handed goal. While draped by a Tigers defenseman, Essery drove to the net and backhanded the puck past Watson at 7:14.
RIT countered with a goal on the same power play on Brad McGowans goal at 8:27.
St. Lawrence fared 0-for-5 on the power play, including three man advantages in the opening period.
We were all over them, we had a bunch of chances, especially in the second (period), Flanagan said. We dropped off a little bit in the third energy wise and getting pucks deep and going to work.
The Saints host RIT at 7 tonight.