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College hockey: Competitive Carey has high standards

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CANTON — Make no mistake about it, St. Lawrence University junior Greg Carey is “passionate” about winning.

The winger clearly wasn’t pleased at all when the Saints settled for a 3-3 tie against Colgate last Saturday night.

“I’m very competitive,” said Carey, who leads the nation in goals with 18. “Growing up, I’ve always been competitive, I don’t like to lose in anything, whether it’s in a hockey game or in practice — or even in a game of chess against my brother.

“I don’t like to lose and I think you can say that probably about every single one of those guys in that locker room.”

Have Carey and the Saints (12-10-4, 5-5-4), unbeaten in their past six conference games at 4-0-2, hit their stride yet?

“I’d like say we haven’t yet and I’d to say we can tighten up this (race) even further,” Carey said. “We’re playing good hockey, but you never want to be content — you always want to drive for something better.”

St. Lawrence continues ECAC Hockey play by hosting Rensselaer tonight and Union on Saturday night, with both games at 7.

Entering conference play three weekends ago, the Saints occupied 11th place in the league. But by generating eight points since, they’ve risen to fifth in the ECAC with a potential top-four finish in the league and a first-round bye in the playoffs a possibility.

“It’s an exciting time for us,” said Carey, a native of Hamilton, Ontario. “Our hockey season is kind of coming to its zenith here, and we want and try to accomplish as much as we can here. It’s important for us to try and play the best we can to finish off the (regular) season.”

St. Lawrence trails fourth-place Union, which reached the Frozen Four last year and has won the past seven games against the Saints, by only two points. Five teams — including rival Clarkson and Rensselaer — are also tied for sixth and sit a point behind St. Lawrence in the standings.

“These are a couple important games,” Carey said. “RPI always plays us hard and this is a crucial game, and I don’t think we’ve beaten Union since I’ve been here. They’re a good strong team and I think this weekend is real important for us in the standings. So if we can get some points and keep up our good play, it should bode well for us.”

Carey, who has totaled a team-leading 37 points, including 19 assists, along with senior center Kyle Flanagan (12-24-36) and junior winger Jeremy Wick (10-8-18) comprise perhaps the most lethal and prolific scoring line in the country.

“He’s been a goal scorer from the day he first stepped on to the ice,” St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel said of Carey. “He’s got an NHL shot and he’s got real good offensive sense.”

Both Carey, who may garner Hobey Baker Award attention, and Flanagan, whose name is already included in the prestigious award’s first phase of voting, have ranked among the nation’s scoring leaders all season. Carey stands first in goals per game (0.69 percent) and fourth in points per game (1.42).

“You can see he’s got a little extra jump in his step,” Flanagan said of Carey, who is tied for second in the nation in power-play goals (seven). “When he’s hot, we want him to shoot the puck. He leads the country in goals and there’s no surprise why — he’s got a great shot.”

Flanagan, who stands second in the country in both points per game (1.44) and assists per game (0.96), and is tied for second in assists (24).

“We just want to keep it up,” Carey said of his chemistry with Flanagan. “For both of us, it’s definitely more of a team focus — individual statistics are secondary. We want to try and do as much as we can for this team and if that means being all over the scoresheet, that’s what we’ll do. And if that means creating opportunities for other players, we’ll do that as well. It’s all about working toward our team goal.”

Carey, who as well as Wick is on a five-game goal streak, has five goals and four assists over this stretch, and has totaled 15 points (7-8) over his past 10 games.

“He’s passionate, but I wouldn’t say he’s intense,” Carvel said of Carey, whose has totaled 114 career points at St. Lawrence. “ ... He’s not just a goal scorer — he makes some great plays with the puck. But his mentality is to shoot first — and he’s got a shot that some goalies have a hard time picking up because he gets off his shot so quick.”

Last season, St. Lawrence had a five-game winning streak in the ECAC — beginning in the first weekend of February — en route to an eighth-place finish and a home playoff series against Dartmouth.

Clearly, with eight league games remaining, this time the Saints have higher aspirations this season.

“For some reason after Christmas break since I’ve been here, we’ve gone on runs,” said Carey, who has six points, including four goals, in four career games against RPI. “There’s a desperation aspect because there’s not much season left here and we want to get as much out of it as we can.”

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

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