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Saints beat Big Red in men’s hockey

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CANTON — Even though its only the first weekend of February, St. Lawrence University’s game with Cornell on Friday night had a playoff feel to it.

In an intense and physical meeting, the Saints engineered another yet comeback victory — and in the process left Big Red coach Mike Schafer seeing red.

St. Lawrence rallied with three unanswered goals in the third period — with Greg Carey scoring the game-winner while on the power play with 4 minutes, 55 seconds remaining in regulation following a controversial penalty call — to defeat Cornell, 4-2, in an ECAC Hockey tussle before a turnout of 1,893 at Appleton Arena.

The Saints, who also rallied to defeat both Dartmouth and Harvard last weekend, won their third consecutive game and extended their unbeaten streak to five games (4-0-1).

“The same kind of thing happened last weekend against Dartmouth,” Carey said. “We were down 2-1 going into the third then ... and tonight we showed our desire to win and our desperation.”

By reaching the .500 mark in ECAC play, St. Lawrence (12-10-3, 5-5-3) also moved into a tie for fifth place with Princeton.

“Everything is so tight in the league right now, so this is another big win,” Saints’ junior goalie Matt Weninger said. “It’s good to be playing well ... every game is really intense and this one was no exception.”

With the score at 2-2, Cornell’s Jacob MacDonald was assessed a five-minute major penalty for boarding after referees ruled he sent Jeremy Wick into the boards at 14:26 of the third period.

“It’s frustrating,” Schafer said after the Big Red (8-10-2, 4-7-2) suffered its fourth straight loss. “I just watched the video clip and the kid (Wick) didn’t even get hit into the boards. If there’s any team that’s more sensitive about getting hit from behind, we had a kid (Cole Bardeau) who broke his neck earlier in the year on a hit from behind.”

St. Lawrence, which went scoreless on their first six power plays, finally converted on this chance at 15:05 as Carey wristed a long-range shot past goalie Andy Iles.

“Wicker got hit from behind there,” Carvel said of the major penalty in the third. “Then Carey just does what he does — they gave him too much time, he fired the puck and it was a great job by Kyle Essery on the screen. He was out there for Wick, who got injured on the hit.”

“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Schafer said.

Essery then scored an empty-net goal with 1:31 left after Iles had been pulled for an extra attacker.

“We just talked about being in the same position as we were last weekend against Dartmouth,” Carvel said. “I felt it was a pretty even game but that we could still crank our game up. I give our guys a ton of credit — we came on that first shift in the third and got scoring chances right away — and just willed our way from there on.”

Trailing 2-1 entering the third, the Saints drew even as Patrick Doherty was credited with the tying goal when defenseman George Hughes’ shot deflected off Doherty’s skate and into the open left side of the net 3:12 seconds into the third.

“That was George just being real active, he loves to jump up on offense,” Carvel said of Hughes, who recorded the primary assist on all of St. Lawrence’s goals in the third period.

Weninger made 28 saves, including stopping all 11 shots faced in the third period. The netminder also denied Joel Lowry’s short-handed breakaway bid late in the second.

Iles finished with 31 saves for Cornell, which has only won once over its past eight games.

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