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Saints lose to Engineers, seeded sixth

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TROY — This wasn’t the way St. Lawrence University envisioned finishing its regular season.

Defenseman Nick Bailen scored a goal and assisted on two others to spark Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to a 4-1 rout of the Saints on Saturday night in an ECAC Hockey game at Houston Field House.

With the loss, St. Lawrence (16-14-2, 9-9-4) was eliminated from contention for a playoff bye and finishes tied for fifth in the league with Dartmouth, but the Big Green are seeded fifth based on a tiebreaker.

The sixth-seeded Saints will host No. 11 Colgate in a first-round playoff series beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday. Game two is on Saturday, and a third game, if necessary, will be played on Sunday, with both at Appleton Arena.

“I’m actually pretty happy with the way we played tonight,” St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel said. “I think we played hard, we followed our game plan and I think as a team we worked hard. It was a 2-1 game in the third period and I think we were playing well and we were dictating play at that point. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to score more goals.”

St. Lawrence certainly had their chances against the Engineers (17-12-5, 12-7-3), who finished in second place, as it had eight power plays — but converted on just one man advantage.

“Our power play struggled tonight,” Carvel said. “Without Kyle (Flanagan), that’s a big hole for us and our power play runs through him. We had a lot more power plays than they did because we were working harder then they were, but just couldn’t get enough going on the power play.”

The Saints failed to score on their first four power plays against RPI before breaking through with Greg Carey’s goal 13:46 into the second period.

With St. Lawrence trailing 1-0, Carey scored on the Saints’ sixth man advantage with a long-range shot well out from the slot.

Yet with St. Lawrence on its seventh power play, Brock Higgs finished off a shorthanded rush by backhanding the puck through goalie Matt Weninger’s legs to provide RPI with a 2-1 lead at 15:01.

“I’m a little frustrated with the type of goals we gave up,” Carvel said. “We didn’t make RPI earn their goals tonight. After we tied the game at one, we got beat up the ice on what should of been an icing call. ... all four of their goals were because of breakdowns or mental lapses by us.”

The Engineers struck for a goal each from Travis Fulton and Johnny Rogic within span of 4:10 to lead 4-1 and to chase Weninger (29 saves).

The Saints, who entered the weekend in third place in the league, was outscored 9-2 in their road trip to the Capital District.

With his assist on Carey’s goal, senior George Hughes became just the third defenseman in St. Lawrence history to record 100-career points. Hughes has 18 goals and 82 assists in 144 career games.

The Saints played their second consecutive game without Flanagan, who had surgery to remove his appendix on Tuesday. The senior captain was supposed to be out seven to 10 days and “it’s possible” he might return for next weekend. But Carvel, who said he “hopes and prays” Flanagan will be back, wouldn’t speculate on this.

St. Lawrence won the season series against Colgate, 1-0-1. The Saints won 4-2 in Hamilton on Nov. 30 and then tied the Raiders 3-3 on Feb. 3 at St. Lawrence.

“They’re a team we’ve had two good games with,” Carvel said. “They’re a young team that plays with a lot of energy and a lot of tempo. It’s ECAC Hockey, you have to play your best game to beat whoever you’re playing.”

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