The statistics say that Union was edged out in faceoffs, 31-30, by St. Lawrence in Saturday night’s ECAC Hockey game.
But two of the Saints’ faceoff wins changed the complexion of the contest, and sent the Dutchmen on a long bus ride back to Schenectady.
The faceoff wins led directly to two critical goals, turning a 2-2 tie into two-goal Saints’ lead, and they went on defeat the Dutchmen, 5-2, at Appleton Arena.
The Dutchmen (5-7 ECACH, 12-11-1 overall) had rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game on goals by Mario-Valery Trabucco, the second of which came with 5:39 left in the second period. The Dutchmen seemed to be in control.
“We did have momentum at that point of the game,” said Valery-Trabucco, who extended his point-scoring streak to seven games. “A few bad plays here and there, a few bad shifts and some turnovers led them to getting another goal.”
The first of the two faceoff failures came less than two minutes later. Kevin DeVergilio cleanly won a draw in Union’s right circle, and made a move to the net. He then centered the puck over to Mike McKenzie on his left, and he tapped it past goalie Corey Milan.
“Their third goal was just bad focus by our guys,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “It’s something we’ve scouted, we’ve shown on tape, talked about in the pregame meeting, and we had a couple of guys go out there and fall asleep. They [the Saints] were in it, and they scored a goal. There’s not much you can say.”
Then, early in the third period, the Saints (4-6-2, 12-10-2) were on the power play when Casey Parenteau won a faceoff in the Dutchmen’s left circle. He drew the puck to Jared Ross at the left point, and he fired a shot on net. Milan stopped it, but DeVergilio knocked it back just over the goal line to make it 4-2.
“One of the areas that Union is very strong on is faceoffs and scrums,” St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh said. “They’re very strong, positionally. We didn’t do a good job [Friday] night [against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute], in terms of faceoffs. It’s been something we have to get better at.
“We were just fortunate to win those [against Union], and get some cracks at it.”
Any hopes of another rally by the Dutchmen ended with 6:16 left, when Ross fired a shot from the top of the slot over Milan’s right shoulder.
The lack of focus on faceoffs, as well as other areas of the Dutchmen’s game, will be addressed by Leaman in practices this week after losing both games on the North Country trip. Union dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to Clarkson on Friday. The losses dropped the Dutchmen into a tie for ninth place with the Saints. Both teams are one point behind Clarkson, Harvard and RPI, who are tied for sixth place and have the hold on home ice in the first round of the ECACH tournament.
“We’ve got to be focused every shift,” Leaman said. “We have to take a deep breath, and put this weekend behind us and try to move forward now.”
Union 0 2 0 — 2
St. Lawrence 1 2 2 — 5
First Period — 1, St. Lawrence, Keller 5 (McBride, Fensel), 17:31. Penalties — Keller, StL (charging), 4:33; Wakita, Uni (holding), 12:42.
Second Period — 2, St. Lawrence, Miskovic 9 (Keller, Bogosian), 5:26. 3, Union, Valery-Trabucco 8 (Schreiber, Walters), 8:03. 4, Union, Valery-Trabucco 9 (Walters, Caffaro), 14:21. 5, St. Lawrence, McKenzie 10 (DeVergilio), 16:17. Penalty — Ross, StL (contact to head-roughing), 18:53.
Third Period — 6, St. Lawrence, DeVergilio 5 (Ross, Parenteau), 2:13 (pp). 7, St. Lawrence, Ross 1 (Vermeulen, Bollig), 13:44. Penalties — Harr, Uni (cross-checking), 1:32; DeVergilio (holding), 14:37.
Shots on Goal — Union 12-12-9 — 32. St. Lawrence 12-11-11 — 34.
Power-play opportunities — Union 0 of 3; St. Lawrence 1 of 2.
Goalies — Union, Milan 12-11-1 (34 shots-29 saves). St. Lawrence, Petizian 8-7-2 (32-30).
A — 2:03. T — 2,425.
Referees — Mike Baker, Dan Murphy. Linesmen — Marty Demers, Mike Emanatian.