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St. Lawrence sweeps Colgate, 4-1

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CANTON — St. Lawrence University seniors Kyle Flanagan and George Hughes took a few extra minutes at center ice to savor the moment after their final game at Appleton Arena on Saturday night.

It was truly mission accomplished for the Saints as it finished off a playoff sweep of Colgate in convincing fashion.

Flanagan recorded a four-point night, including a goal, defenseman Justin Baker scored twice and goalie Matt Weninger made 27 saves as St. Lawrence downed Colgate, 4-1 in Game 2 of an ECAC Hockey first-round series before a crowd of 1,296.

“We couldn’t ask for a better way to go out,” Flanagan, the Saints’ senior captain, said. “After the game, that kind of gave me chills. But we’re not done yet.”

Sixth-seeded St. Lawrence (18-14-4) advances to the quarterfinal round and will play at either Union or Yale next weekend, pending Sunday’s results.

“I think we’ve taken a big step since last season,” Hughes said. “We had a couple good games and we were able to close out this series. I thought we elevated our play tonight compared to (Friday), so it was good to see that, too.”

“I’m very, very proud of my team,” St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel said. “After last night when we gave them a chance to get back in the game, I thought we probably had our best full 60-minute game of the year. Our special teams were outstanding and our goaltending was strong.”

The Saints again won the special teams struggle against 11th-seeded Colgate (14-18-4) by scoring three power-play goals and in turn kept the Raiders’ vaunted power play scoreless.

“My freshman year, we had a big upset in winning a series at Princeton and that was awesome,” said Saints junior Greg Carey, who scored on the power-play in the first period. “And this feels just as good. We got swept last year by Dartmouth, but we really came with a good game plan and executed it well.”

“It’s great to be able to come through on this opportunity,” Weninger said. “I don’t think it really matters whoever we play. ... We’ve got to keep up our fight the way we’ve been fighting and try and survive as long as we can.”

The Saints were again quick starters on Saturday against Colgate by scoring twice in the first 14 minutes.

Flanagan and Carey each scored within a span of three minutes, 47 seconds in the first period as St. Lawrence seized control.

“Our start was great, it really carried us through the game,” Said Flanagan, who became just the seventh player in program history to record 100 assists.

Hughes set up Flanagan’s goal by patiently sending in a shot from the left point, which Flanagan put past goalie Spencer Finney at 9:58.

“He really froze the goalie on that shot,” Flanagan said, “and I had about five seconds to put it in the back of the net. ... I had the easy part — George is the one who made the great play.”

Hughes then assisted on Carey’s tally by lofting a pass back to the junior forward, who ripped a shot from the right faceoff circle for a power-play goal at 13:43 to chase goaltender Spencer Finney.

“That goal was just Greg shooting the puck,” Carvek said of Carey, who now has 11 points, including nine goals in 10 postseason games, continues to lead the country this season in goals (28), power-play goals (14) and points (51).

“There’s not many guys who can score like he does and that was a great one-timer. And the two goals in the third period was real good execution of what we wanted to do on the power play.”

In the third period, the Saints scored on successive power plays — with both goals from Justin Baker to turn back the Raiders.

“Obviously their power play was on fire tonight,” Colgate coach Don Vaughn said. “We made some adjustments to our penalty kill coming into tonight, but we clearly made some mental mistakes.”

St. Lawrence took a back-breaking 3-0 lead only 25 seconds into the third period as Justin Baker one-timed a cross-crease pass from Flanagan past goalie Eric Mihalik.

Later, Mihalik turned aside a drive from Flanagan, but Baker was there with the rebound goal at 14:45 for a 4-0 advantage.

Weninger was once again perfect in the first 40 minutes with 18 saves, including eight in the second period.

During Colgate’s second power play of the game in the third period, Weninger made a sequence of three stops, including a blocker save on Tylor Spink.

“I really liked his game tonight,” Carvel said of Weninger. “He was outstanding all weekend.”

Colgate’s first period woes continued as it was outscored 5-0 collectively in the first 20 minutes of both games.

The Raiders have scored only 28 goals in the opening period in 36 games this season.

“We were committed to playing the right way and making good decisions — and we didn’t waver all night long,” Carvel said. “We won this convincingly and that’s hard to do in this league, no matter who you’re playing.”

The Saints’ next opponent in the quarterfinals, which begin Friday, depends on the outcome of a pair of Game 3s tonight in the ECAC.

If fifth-seeded Dartmouth wins against 12th-seeded Harvard, St. Lawrence would play at third-seeded Yale. If Harvard prevails, the Saints will play at fourth-seeded Union.

“We have to play like we played tonight,” Carvel said of his team’s prospects in next round.

“I think if that St. Lawrence team keeps playing like they did this weekend, they’re going to be in the mix,” Vaughn concluded.

NOTES: St. Lawrence junior Riley Austin left the game after taking a hit 5:57 into the first period, leaving the team with just five defensemen. Austin suffered a knee injury and is likely out for the season. ... A Hobey Baker Award candidate as is Flanagan, Carey now has scored a goal in 14 of his past 15 games, totaling 15 goals and seven assists over this stretch. Carey is both the first Saint to reach 50 points in a season and lead the ECAC in scoring since Mike Gellard in 2000-01.

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