Strong First Helps St. Lawrence Past Penn State

It took senior defensemen Eric Sweetman just two minutes to give No. 16 St. Lawrence the lead on Friday at Penn State in University Park, Pa., and the Saints scored three goals in the first five minutes, Mike Marnell tallied two empty-net goals and Kyle Haytonmade 43 saves in a 6-3 win.

The win is the first for Mark Morris on the Saints bench, though he's no stranger to collegiate victories with 307 for his coaching career as of Friday night.

"I thought out guys came out with an amazing amount of energy," said Morris. "They really competed hard and kind of set the tone for the game for us."

Sweetman's wraparound goal two minutes in put the Saints in front 1-0 and Joe Sullivan redirected a backhand by Michael Laidley less than a minute later to extend the lead to 2-0.

The third Saints goal came almost immediately after killing a penalty to Sullivan, when Eric Sweetman hit first-year Ryan Garvey as he split the Penn State defense at the blue line and moved in on a breakaway. He snapped off a wrist shot and beat netminder Peyton Jones high on the blocker side for the first goal of his collegiate career and a
3-0 lead heading in the second period. Chris Funkey came in in relief of Jones following Garvey's goal.

Early in the middle frame, Jacob Pritchard buried the rebound from a shot by senior defensemen Ben Masella in the paint to give the visiting Saints a four-goal cushion and the eventual game winner.

But just over two minutes later, the Nittany Lions converted their first of two power play goals of the night when Vince Pedrie beat Kyle Hayton high on the glove side on a one timer. Their second goal came off the stick of Andrew Sturtz in the final minute of the second period.

After Marnell scored his first empty-net goal with just under two minutes remaining, Penn State's Blake Gober tallied the second power play goal for the home team to close the gap to 5-3. But a minute after netting hist first goal, Marnell iced the win with his second of the game for the eventual 6-3 margin.

"Penalties were 8-3, so that kind of squelched our momentum," Morris explained. "I give our guys a lot of credit for bounding back when they started generating their own offense through power plays and opportunities at the tail end. It was nice to see Marnell pit a few to put us back out so we didn't need to stress as much on the bench."

Penn State outshot the Saints 46-26 on Friday night, including 13 shots with the man advantage, but the Saints weathered the storm to even their record at 1-1-0 heading back to Canton.

St. Lawrence will prepare to face the University of New Hampshire and Merrimack at Appleton Arena next weekend, and building confidence on special teams will be the focus in practice, according to Morris.

"Our power play has the ability to produce goals and we just need to gain some confidence and start understanding that it's a process to get from one zone to the next and really make the most of our chances," he said.

Puck drop for both games next weekend is set for 7 p.m.