Saints Cannot Hold Off Yale, Face Game 3
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Yale junior Kevin Limbert snapped a 1-1 tie with a goal 8:37 into the second period, triggering a three-goal flurry and sending the Bulldogs, ranked third nationally, on their way to a 5-2 win over St. Lawrence in game two of their best-of-three ECAC quarterfinal series, forcing a deciding game three on Sunday night. Yale, which won a school record 24th game, bounced back from its 4-3 overtime loss to the Saints on Friday, snapping a string of three straight post-season wins for the Saints and setting up Sunday's winner-take-all game to decide the series and a spot in the ECAC semifinals.
"One of the hardest things a team can do is end someone's season," said Saint coach Joe Marsh. "While we know Yale is going to keep playing in the NCAAs regardless of the outcome of this series, they want to keep their playoff run going as well as we do. We are going to have our hands full again tomorrow night, but we will give it our best shot."
The Saints, 13-21-5, played Yale even in the first period, bouncing back from an early Yale goal with a power play goal to make it 1-1 with just 1.6 seconds to play in the period. Yale's Denny Kearney opened the scoring when he scored on a rebound off an offensive zone faceoff. Limbert won the draw and Kevin Peel got off the initial shot which Saint goalie Matt Weninger stopped, but Kearney jumped on the rebound and put it in off Weninger's glove at 15:12 for the game's first goal.
The Saints cashed in on their first power play chance of the game as Greg Carey found Kyle Flanagan cruising down the slot with time rapidly running out in the period. Flanagan gunned a shot just under the crossbar for his 12th of the year with Nic Vangog also assisting on the play, his sixth assist of the post-season.
Limbert's goal, which came in a scramble in front of Weninger following a Saint turnover at the attacking blue line ignited the potent Yale attack.
"We made a couple of coverage mistakes and let them have some openings which you just can't do against a team as talented as Yale," said Marsh. "To the credit of our guys they settled down and battled back, but the damage had been done.
Clinton Bourbonais made it a 3-1 game at 11:56 when he found himself all alone and wide open in front of Weninger, taking a pass from Antoine Laganiere to score his fourth of the season and it went to 4-1 at 13:47 when Kevin Peel was left unguarded and snapped a shot past Weninger, who was not at fault on any of the Yale goals.
The Saints cut the lead to 5-2 with 2:19 to go in the second period when Nick Pitsikoulis took a lead pass from Aaron Bogosian and scored his 11th of the year on a looping shot which went over the shoulder of Yale goalie Ryan Rondeau, and the Saints had a chance to make it interesting early in the third when Bogosian's shorthanded bid was stopped by Rondeau and the Saints couldn't get to the rebound.
Broc Little scored his 16th of the year on a power play after a long pass, walking in and tucking a backhand past Weninger from the top of the blue at 8:38, and any chance the Saints had of winning the series in two went south when Yale killed off 49 seconds of five on three power play midway through the third period.
Weninger finished with 28 saves for the Saints in another strong effort in goal while Rondeau had 29 stops for Yale.