CANTON St. Lawrence Universitys first mens hockey game since Dec. 14 was strange on many accounts.
The Saints appeared out of sorts in the early going, which could be expected, and they wound up losing, 4-2, to the University of Vermont before a sparse crowd of 851 in a nonconference game at Appleton Arena on Tuesday night.
The crowd was impacted by winter weather and students on break. There was no snowfall in Canton, but at game time the wind chill was about minus-11 degrees and some fans in outlying areas opted to skip the game.
The Saints dropped their fifth game in a row and never really looked like their usual selves with the exception of a brief stretch late in the second period. Before Tuesday, the last Saints contest had been a 5-1 loss to the Catamounts in Burlington, Vt., on Dec. 14. Vermont had since played five games.
You try to hope (rest) is a positive and youve got a little energy and maybe they are a little tired, SLU coach Greg Carvel said. That wasnt the case. They were a team that was firing on all cylinders and we looked like a team that hadnt played in a month for the first half of the game. I thought in the second half, we started to play a little better. They got two goals where our defensemen fell over. Just little things like that, it all adds up.
The Saints (8-10-2) were unfortunate in a few instances Tuesday.
Vermont (11-6-3) scored its first goal 9 minutes and 20 seconds into the game when a backhander from Connor Brickley went through some legs and hit a St. Lawrence player and deflected into the net past Saints goalie Kyle MacDonald, making his first start.
It was kind of a soft backhand that I think went off somebodys leg and redirected, Carvel said.
Vermont tried to make it 2-0 in the first when Brady Shaw got a breakaway opportunity at 13:54. But MacDonald kept composed and used his leg pad to block the shot.
You expect the first period to be a little sloppy, hands and feet and just getting back into it, SLU forward Greg Carey said. The second two periods, I thought we picked up our play.
Vermont extended its lead to 3-0 in the second period. Colin Markison scored a power-play goal at 6:32 and defenseman Nick Luukko scored on a hard shot from the circle at 12:39.
SLUs offense woke up late in the second period, scoring two goals in the final 2:43 to cut Vermonts lead to 3-2 heading into the second intermission.
The first goal for the Saints came on a power play with Brian Ward producing the goal at 17:17. Carey added another goal with 58 seconds left in the period.
Unfortunately, for SLU, the spurt came late in the period, giving the Catamounts a chance to regroup in the locker room and denying SLU more time to play with momentum.
We knew we were good and we had to get back to the things that got us up 3-0 and play a solid road game, Luukko said.
Any momentum SLU hoped to have going into the final period went away early when a Saints defenseman slipped, giving the Catamounts a two-on-one breakaway, which resulted in a goal from Jonathan Turk just 90 second into the period, closing the scoring.
As soon as we got those two quick goals we thought we had the momentum, SLU captain Kyle Essery said. It was tough when they scored 1:30 into the third period. But we didnt give up. We kept going. At the end, we couldnt pull out the win.
In its other 18 games this season the Saints averaged 3.78 goals. In the past two games against Vermont, the team averaged only 1.5.
They check tight, Carey said. They try to match against us and they are a fast team. If you arent moving just as fast, they get above you and make it difficult for you to get through the neutral zone and they box you out in places. They kind of really take away from our offensive chances.