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College men’s hockey: Poor start costly to Saints in 5-3 loss

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CANTON — Another bad start and poor play on special teams once again proved to be critical for the St. Lawrence University hockey team.

Brown University scored the first four goals and freshman goalie Tyler Steel made 34 saves en route to a 5-3 win over the Saints on Friday night at Appleton Arena, handing St. Lawrence its sixth consecutive loss.

Matt Lorito scored a goal and assisted on two others — all in the first period — and Dennis Robertson scored twice on the power play to propel the Bears (7-6-3, 4-4-1), who extended their unbeaten streak to six games (4-0-2).

“You just can’t give them chances like that,” St. Lawrence senior goalie Matt Weninger said. “We still haven’t learned our lessons.”

Not only have the reeling Saints (8-11-2, 2-5-2) not won a game in more than a month and half, they also were dealt their ninth setback in their past 11 games.

“We lost because we got in a hole early mostly due to special teams,” said St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel, whose team has gone scoreless in each of their past three opening periods. “But we didn’t fold up our tents — we played hard and pushed right until the end.”

Keeping the puck out of its own net was once again the glaring issue for St. Lawrence, which has allowed five or more goals on six occasions in the recent skid.

“It was another tough first period,” St. Lawrence captain Kyle Essery said. “The last 40 minutes, we played hard and I think we played better than we did. But being down 3-0 in the first period is tough to come back from.”

After Lorito struck for a short-handed goal 8 minutes, 39 seconds into the game and Mark Naclerio followed with a goal, Robertson followed with his back-to-back man-advantage goals, first late in the opening period and then in the second.

“The bottom line is our penalty kill allowed three goals and they scored short-handed,” Carvel said. “Our penalty kill is not very good right now.”

Carvel was encouraged by his team’s play in the final 40 minutes as the Saints played just their second game in only 35 days.

“We definitely played better after the first period,” Weninger said. “ ... But we can’t give up goals like that in the first period and they led 4-0 halfway through the game. When you do that your chances of winning are slim and none.”

Robertson was later ejected from the game and received a major penalty and game misconduct for head-butting St. Lawrence’s Jeremy Wick. As a result, Brown’s captain will have to sit out tonight’s game at No. 14 Clarkson.

“We outworked them early and then it just went south quick,” Brown coach Brendan Whittet said. “I hope the boys mature in their approach to things and, in a 60-minute game, we just got away from what makes us successful. And credit them — they got back to their game and were playing hard and with tenacity.”

Lorito had a hand in all three goals in the first period for Brown as he opened the scoring with a short-handed, unassisted goal. Lorito then set up the next goal as Mark Naclerio lifted a shot over Weninger.

With 58.9 seconds left in the period, Robertson took a cross-ice pass from Nick Lappin and scored into the wide-open left side of the net for a power-play goal.

Brown’s run continued into the second as after Steel made a glove save on Drew Smolcynski’s short-handed bid, Robertson scored on the ensuing rush for a power-play goal and a 4-0 Bears lead at 8:05.

After the Saints finally broke through on Patrick Doherty’s rebound goal at 10:41, Brown led 5-1 on the power play as Lappin knocked in a rebound at 15:53.

Wick, who assisted on Doherty’s goal, converted while on the power play at 17:20 to pull St. Lawrence within 5-2.

Later, the Saints were unable to convert on a pair of power plays in the third period, managing only one shot on goal during a 5-on-3 man advantage spanning 1:25.

n NOTES: The Saints are now 3-6 at home and 2-6 when trailing after the first period. ... With his assist in the third period, Greg Carey extended his point streak to 16 games. ... St. Lawrence will host reigning national champion Yale at 7 tonight.

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