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Big Green upsets Saints at Appleton Arena

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CANTON — While St. Lawrence hockey team returned to its season-long struggles on home ice on Friday night, Dartmouth College responded with a rare road win this season.

Grant Opperman scored the deciding goal late in the second period and goalie Charles Grant made 32 saves as the Big Green continued its recent dominance of the Saints in the north country by posting a 3-1 triumph in an ECAC Hockey game before a turnout of 1,126 at Appleton Arena.

St. Lawrence (11-15-3, 5-9-3), which had won three of its previous four games, dropped to 4-9 in games in Canton this season.

“It’s just frustrating because we know we’re so much better and that we can play so much better,” junior defenseman Chris Martin said. “After the last two weekends when we did well, to come out and play like this, it’s just tough.”

With five games remaining in the regular season, setbacks like these could ultimately cost the Saints a chance for a home series in the opening round of the playoffs.

After winning three of its first four home games this season — St. Lawrence is 1-8 at Appleton Arena since.

“It’s tough to not win in front of your fans when they come out to support you,” Martin said. “It sucks that we can’t win for them here, we should win more games at home. ... We have to make this a tougher place to play when other teams come in here.”

The Saints, who defeated then No. 2 Union two weeks ago at home and knocked off then No. 3 Quinnipiac on the road last Saturday, in turn were shut down by Dartmouth, which has occupied last place in the conference for much of the season.

“It’s a frustrating loss,” St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel said. “Just when you think we’re getting something going after we beat some of the top teams in the league, we respond with a game like this.”

Tyler Sikura and Eric Neiley each recorded two assists for Dartmouth, which won for just the third time on the road this season and moved out of last place in the league.

“It’s a really good road win,” said Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet, whose team won its seventh consecutive game at St. Lawrence. “Our team’s been battling hard and we’ve been pretty beat up physically. [Team captain] Tyler Sikura played for the first time in a while and I think having him back really helped us.”

Jeremy Wick scored the lone goal for the Saints, who led 1-0 early in the second period on his power-play goal at 4 minutes, 48 seconds.

Dartmouth drew even at 1-1 with a power-play tally of its own as Brandon McNally one-timed a centering feed from Neiley past goalie Matt Weninger at 15:35.

“They’re a tough team to play against and we knew that coming in,” Carvel said.

The Big Green struck just under three minutes later to take a 2-1 edge as Opperman cruised in on a breakaway and beat Weninger at 17:34.

“Obviously it’s really disappointing with the way we came out and played,” assistant captain Jeremy Wick said. “But clearly we have it in us to play better, so we just have to bring it tomorrow.”

Charlie Mosey provided Dartmouth with a 3-1 lead as he redirected a feed from Jesse Beamish 5:57 into the third.

After St. Lawrence converted on its first power play, Dartmouth held them off the rest of the way, including a pair of successful penalty kills in the third period.

“We played hard tonight against an excellent team,” Gaudet said.

Even shuffling the lineup, including placing the Carey brothers on separate lines to start the game for just the second time this season, didn’t pay dividends for the Saints.

“Greg hasn’t scored in (nine) games, so we were just trying to shake things up,” Carvel said. “He’s frustrated, but he’ll work himself out of it.”

Weninger stopped 22 of 25 shots for St. Lawrence, which is now in a three-way tie for eighth place in the league with Brown and Harvard. The Saints actually sit in ninth place as Brown owns the tiebreaker, while St. Lawrence currently has the edge over the Crimson.

nNOTES: Greg Carey moved over to play right wing on the starting line with Patrick Doherty and Gunnar Hughes on left wing. Matt Carey, who played most of the season at center, played at left wing, with Brian Ward at center and Drew Smolcynski on the right side. ... Wick, who is tied for second in the country in power-play goals (12), has registered 10 points over his last 10 games.

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