CANTON St. Lawrence University certainly wasnt on top of its game early on against Harvard on Friday night, but responded just in time with enough fortitude to record another memorable finish.
George Hughes and Greg Carey scored within a span of 12 seconds in the third period as the Saints rallied for three unanswered goals to down the Crimson for a 4-2 ECAC Hockey triumph before a crowd of 1,902 at Appleton Arena.
With its fourth consecutive victory, surging St. Lawrence (16-11-4, 9-6-4), which improved to 8-1-2 over its past 11 outings, moved into sole possession of second place in the ECAC.
Its just so different now from when we were in our slump, Hughes said. Were finding ways to win instead of finding ways to lose. We just have to keep pushing forward.
This is the highest in the standings a St. Lawrence mens hockey team has been this late in the season since the 2006-07 campaign.
Thats the highest weve ever been since Ive been here, Carey said. Its a great accomplishment, but weve got to come back and get those two points (tonight against Dartmouth).
Goalie Matt Weninger made 24 saves, including 13 in the third period, to secure the win for the Saints.
We were fortunate tonight, St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel said. I think we showed a lot of character to go down early in the third period and come back and score three goals. I think this team has a lot of confidence right now and are finding ways to win.
Last-place Harvard (7-16-3, 4-13-2), which lost for the first time in five games, led 2-1 early in the third period when the puck deflected right into the front of the net, where freshman Jimmy Vesey scored on a wrister at 1:15.
Then they hit a post and it could have been 3-1, Weninger said. It was a little deflating when they got that goal, but we responded well tonight.
Undaunted, it was about quality over quantity for St. Lawrence, which scored its three goals in the final period on seven shots.
With Harvard captain Danny Biega in the penalty box for slashing, Hughes responded with the tying goal as his long-range drive from just inside the blue line eluded Crimson goalie Raphael Girard, who was screened by Saints winger Jeremy Wick.
That was a huge, huge goal by George Hughes, Carvel said. It was great poise by him and a great shot and we needed that.
Just moments later, Wick then helped set up Careys go-ahead and game-winning goal as Carey fired in a shot from the left wall that deflected off both Girard and a Harvard defenseman and in at 8:26.
I got the puck and I saw Wick and (Kyle Flanagan) driving the net, so I just threw it, said Carey, who leads the nation with 24 goals. Wick said it hit their goalie and another one of their players and found its way into the back of the net. ... It was kind of like a little pinball effect.
After a short video review by officials, the goal stood as Carey extended his goal-scoring streak to 10 games.
I was happy with our effort overall, Harvard coach Ted Donato said. We outshot them 14-7 in the third (period) and we had some good chances. But didnt have much puck luck some of the bounces went their way and they made a few more saves than we did.
Its big, Carey said of the rally. I think the crowd got energized, we got energized and everyone started playing better.
Patrick Doherty provided the Saints with a 4-2 advantage as he finished off a 2-on-1 breakaway with Gunnar Hughes at 14:55.
Weve kind of become accustomed to playing from one (goal) behind, Carey said. You cant let it affect you emotionally and I think weve developed well as a team in this way.
St. Lawrence, which killed off all 13 power plays faced in two games last weekend, bounced back by holding the Crimson scoreless on their last two man advantages, including one late in the third period, with Harvards goalie pulled with 2:10 left for a two-man advantage.
Harvard led 1-0 with a power-play goal as Marshall Everson spun around and swept a rebound past Weninger 5:38 into the game.
Flanagan scored the tying goal at 11:20 as he took a pass from defenseman Pat Raley and lifted the puck over Girard from just outside the right faceoff circle on a delayed penalty call.
nNOTES: Carey has 18 points, including 11 goals over his past 10 games, and has 12 goals over his last 12 games. With his goal, Hughes moved within three points of reaching the career 100-point mark.