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Colgate defeats St. Lawrence to close out ECAC Hockey quarterfinals

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HAMILTON — As the reality and finality of the moment continued to sink in, Greg Carey struggled to hold back the tears.

For the second consecutive season, the senior forward, and his St. Lawrence University teammates came up short in the quarterfinal round of the ECAC Hockey playoffs.

In a series that included a pair of tightly contested, one-goal decisions, Colgate University once again found a way to finish off the Saints, this time with a 4-3 victory to win Game 2 and complete a best-of-three sweep Saturday night at Starr Rink.

“We came out and battled both nights and we stuck to our game plan,” Carey said. “Everyone was out there playing for their lives, and it’s unfortunate it had to end this way.”

Darcy Murphy scored three goals and assisted on another to spark the 17th-ranked and second-seeded Raiders (19-12-5), who advance to the league’s championship weekend in Lake Placid, where they’ll face third-seeded Quinnipiac in a semifinal on Friday.

Carey, a Hobey Baker Award candidate, scored a pair of goals for eighth-seeded St. Lawrence (15-19-4).

“It was kind of like (Friday) night and kind of like last week,” St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel said, “Playoff games are usually tight and the better team finds a way to win. But our guys didn’t give up and fought to the end.”

“It came down to the wire and it was a heartbreaker,” Saints senior goalie Matt Weninger said.

Joe Wilson contributed a goal and two assists for Colgate, which avenged a first-round playoff series loss to St. Lawrence last season.

“I’m just really proud of our guys and how hard they’ve worked not only tonight, but throughout the season,” said Colgate coach Don Vaughan, a former St. Lawrence assistant coach and player. “I thought it was a heck of a comeback after we were down to a team that was playing desperate hockey. We kept our composure ... and we’re excited to be going on to Lake Placid.”

With the game tied at 2-2, Wilson scored the go-ahead goal for the Raiders by tipping in a Ryan Johnston drive five minutes into the third period.

Later on the same power play — after Patrick Doherty and Jeremy Wick both had shorthanded breakaway bids only to be turned away — Murphy struck for the back-breaking and deciding goal. His shot from the point deflected off a Saints defender and into the net for 4-2 Colgate lead at 9:25.

“That’s a good hockey team,” Carvel said of Colgate. “They know how to score goals, and if you make mistakes, they capitalize. That’s what happened this weekend.”

The Raiders scored two power-play goals on eight opportunities and finished with four man-advantage tallies for the series.

“Penalties were a big issue and they took a lot of life out of us,” Carvel said.

The Saints attempted to fight their way back as Carey scored with 3:14 remaining in regulation.

“When you’re playing what could be your last game, you’re not leaving any thing out there,” Carey said. “You’re giving it all you’ve got.”

With Weninger pulled for an extra attacker in the final minute, St. Lawrence was assessed a devastating penalty for too many men on the ice.

Weninger finished with 20 saves for the Saints, who lost last year’s quarterfinal series to Yale at New Haven, Conn.

“Last weekend we won two one-goal games and this weekend we lost a couple of them,” Weninger said. “It’s tough, especially to lose this way.”

Freshman goalie Charlie Finn stopped 23 of 25 shots for Colgate.

The Saints led twice in the opening period, first by crashing the Colgate net as freshman Woody Hudson banged in a Brian Ward rebound 1:40 into the game.

After the Raiders tied the game at only 42 seconds later on Murphy’s goal at 2:22, the Saints pulled ahead 2-1 on Carey’s precision blast from just beyond the right faceoff circle at 15:13 off a pass from Gavin Bayreuther.

Murphy struck for his second goal of the night, by again by directing in a drive from Mike Borkowski for a power-play goal at 8:34 of the second period to pull Colgate even at 2-2.

While St. Lawrence again faced disappointment, Colgate reached the semifinal round in the conference playoffs for the third time in four seasons.

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