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College hockey: Miller, RPI get past St. Lawrence

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CANTON — Leading through two periods, the Saints thought they had the opposition right where they wanted them Saturday night.

The opposite proved to be true, however, as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute scored twice in the third period to rally past St. Lawrence University, 4-3, in an ECAC Hockey game before a turnout of 1,520 at Appleton Arena. Sophomore forward Mark Miller, a Massena native, scored the tying goal for the Engineers six minutes into the final period and junior forward Ryan Haggerty, who scored twice, followed with the game-winner midway through the final 20 minutes.

“You can’t be blowing a lead going into the third period in your home building, especially this time of year,” Saints senior defenseman and assistant captain Justin Baker said.

RPI (11-11-4, 5-6-3), which rebounded after losing to Clarkson 3-0 on Friday, won for the first time this season when trailing after two periods.

“It was a great win,” Miller said. “(Friday) night was a tough loss, we just didn’t play the way we wanted to play. But to come from behind like we did, it’s just a huge, gutsy win.”

The Saints (9-14-3, 3-8-3), coming off their first victory in 10 games, a 2-1 decision over nationally-ranked Union on Friday, put themselves in position to win after another steady defensive effort through the first 40 minutes.

But the Engineers took advantage of miscues in the third period to hand the Saints just their second loss of the season when they led through two periods.

“I thought played hard enough and creative enough to win the game,” St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel said. “Going into the third period we had the lead and the two goals that we gave up were unfortunate.”

RPI cashed in on a turnover six minutes into the final period as Mark McGowan collected in the puck and sent it to Miller, who drove a shot just under the crossbar to tie the game at 3-3.

“I give a lot of credit to McGowan,” said Miller, who scored his second goal of the season. “He did a great job getting the puck. They had a turnover right at the top of the circles and he made a nice play to me right there. I just took one hard step there and ripped it.”

Haggerty tallied the deciding goal as he moved from behind the net and popped the puck past goalie Matt Weninger (25 saves) just inside the right goal post at 10:48.

“The two goals we allowed in the third were both systematic breakdowns,” Baker said. “It’s getting late in the season to allow it to keep happening.”

The Engineers later held off the Saints by killing off their last power play in the final four minutes of the game.

“I think against a power play as elite as theirs, it’s more about survival than it is about dominating them,” said RPI coach Seth Appert, who returned after serving a one-game suspension stemming from a brawl after last Saturday’s loss to Union. “ ... The best one (penalty kill) we did was late and we did a real good job of keeping our composure and keeping most of their shots to the outside.”

St. Lawrence squandered a chance to win consecutive games after they knocked off No. 4 Union, 2-1, on Friday.

“It’s too bad we couldn’t follow up that big win with another one tonight,” Carvel said. “There’s eight games left and I think we’re capable of taking big steps forward — and I think this weekend was a big step forward.”

The Saints had a chance to gain ground in the ECAC standings and on RPI, which is tied for seventh place with Brown, but with the loss remain in a tie for ninth place with Harvard.

“We’ve got four weeks left to really solidify our structure,” Baker said. “And as well all know, anything can happen in the playoffs and hopefully we can get hot for that.”

After RPI took a 1-0 lead Mike Zalewski’s goal only 43 seconds into the game, Jeremy Wick followed with the tying tally at 12:15 on a shot in close at the left goal post. Haggerty scored his first goal of the night at 14:36. Baker, who also registered two assists, scored the tying goal 7:29 into the second period as he featured a backhander toward the goal, which an Engineer defenseman misplayed and put into his own net. Kyle Essery provided St. Lawrence with a 3-2 advantage as he snapped a pass from Baker past goalie Scott Diebold (22 shots) at 17:36.

nNOTES: While St. Lawrence didn’t generate a power-play goal for the second straight game, it didn’t allow a man-advantage tally for the third time in its past four games. ... Greg Carey was held without a point for the first time in 21 games. ... St. Lawrence slips to 4-8 at home. ... The Saints play at Princeton and at Quinnipiac next Friday and Saturday.

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