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College hockey: St. Lawrence runs into Vermont road block

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BURLINGTON, Vt. — The St. Lawrence University men’s hockey team hit a defensive wall at Vermont on Saturday.

The Saints were held to their lowest offensive output of the season in a 5-1 loss to the Catamounts in a nonconference game at Gutterson Fieldhouse.

“We didn’t play badly and we played hard,” St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel said. “We had a lot of time in the offensive zone, but we couldn’t get enough pucks to the net.”

St. Lawrence (8-9-2 overall), which entered the weekend as the fourth best offensive team in the nation, was dealt its fourth consecutive loss and slipped below the .500 mark for the first time this season.

Vermont (8-5-1), which is ranked No. 12 in the nation defensively, recorded its second straight victory over the Saints dating back to last season.

“Vermont is a pretty good team and they play with a lot of pace,” Carvel said. “They’ve got a couple real high-skill guys that stood out tonight. ... But when we made mistakes, they did a good job of converting on them.”

The Saints suffered their fifth loss in their past seven games and their seventh setback in their last nine games.

“Right now as opposed to the beginning of year, we’ve lost a stretch a games where we’re not getting secondary scoring,” Carvel said. “That’s an issue right now and defensively, our defensemen are struggling a little bit with pressure — and that’s an obvious part of our game that we need to improve on right now.”

St. Lawrence, which entered Saturday with the nation’s top-ranked power play, went scoreless on three man-advantage opportunities against Vermont, marking just the fifth time it hasn’t scored a power-play goal in a game this season.

Michael Paliotta and H.T. Lenz each tallied a goal and an assist to spark Vermont, which struck for two goals within the first 14 minutes of the game.

After Paliotta scored at 9 minutes, 37 seconds on Vermont’s first power play, Jonathan Turk followed with his first goal of the season at 13:49 to build a 2-0 advantage.

The Saints drew within 2-1 on Greg Carey’s goal 52 seconds into the second period.

But Vermont answered as Nick Bruneteau scored with 2:21 remaining in the middle period. Chris McCarthy provided the Catamounts with a 4-1 lead with his goal 14:02 into the third and Lenz capped the scoring with an empty-net goal at 19:56.

Goalie Brody Hoffman stopped 21 of 22 shots for Vermont.

Freshman goalie Tyler Parks made 18 saves on 22 shots for St. Lawrence as he was dealt his first collegiate loss in three starts.

“I actually thought Parks played pretty well for us,” Carvel said. “But they scored two goals on breakaways and another goal on the power play on a one-timer. So we continue to make some glaring mistakes that have cost us.”

The Saints are now off until the new year when they’ll host Vermont on Tuesday, Jan. 7.

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