CANTON - Junior wing Patrick Doherty snapped a 1-1 tie 3:40 into the second period and senior goaltender Matt Weninger shut down the University of Maine the rest of the way as St. Lawrence University edged the Black Bears 3-1 in the NCAA college hockey opener for both teams at SLUs Appleton Arena Friday night.
Weninger, making his 50th consecutive start dating back to February of his sophomore year, finished with 25 saves as the Saints won their home opener for the second straight season and improved to 13-3-3 on the first home weekend of the season over the last ten years. It was also the third straight win for the Saints over Maine and their first in Canton against the Black Bears since 1984.
The Saints grabbed a first period lead when freshman defenseman Gavin Bayreuther took advantage a puck that rolled off the end of the stick of Saint All America Greg Carey. The puck rolled right into the deep slot and Bayreuther picked it up in stride as he pinched in from the point, snapping a shot into the empty cage as Maine senior goalie Martin Ouellette could not get back across from the opposite post. Bayreuthers first collegiate goal came at 13:07 and gave the Saints a 1-0 lead after one.
Freshmen Brian Morgan and Blaine Byron collaborated on Maines first goal of the season, tying the game at 1-1 1:48 into the second as Byron tucked his first collegiate goal between Weningers pad and the post on an up-ice rush. Defensemen Justin Baker and Eric Sweetman worked the puck out of the Saint end just under two minutes later and sent Doherty in alone on Ouellette. Doherty snapped a shot into the upper corner for his 16th career goal to give the Saints a 2-1 lead at 3:40. Sophomore Brian Ward, playing his first collegiate season after transferring, scored his first collegiate goal to give the Saints a 3-1 lead at 13:14 as he collected a second rebound off a shot by freshman Woody Hudson and tucked the puck past Oullette.
Neither team scored in the third period despite a number of power play chances as Weninger closed out the win with eight saves and Ouellette made 12 of his 28 for the game.
The two teams will play a rematch tonight at 7 pm.