CANTON In an auspicious opening weekend, St. Lawrence Universitys hockey team once again rose to the challenge to finish off the University of Maine on Saturday night and complete the schools homecoming weekend with a flair.
The Saints made it a clean sweep of the Hockey East foe for the second straight year.
Brian Ward scored the game winner with 4 minutes, 54 seconds remaining and Greg Carey followed with a pair of successive goals, including a tally just 48 seconds later, as the Saints downed Maine, 5-2, in a non-conference game before 2,310 at Appleton Arena.
I think its good for our team confidence, Carey said. I think overall we played our systems well and we played hard. Guys were out there blocking shots and showing heart the first weekend of the season the kind of heart you need the last weekend of the season.
Carey finished with a four-point night and goalie Matt Weninger made 33 saves, including stopping 18 of 19 shots, in the third period for the Saints (2-0).
This is an awesome start, Ward said. We showed a lot of toughness and character and just stuck with it. We showed some resilience by bouncing back after they tied the game and we found a way to win.
The Saints have won all four meetings with the Black Bears dating back to last season when they won two games in Orono, Maine.
I thought we came out slow, we knew they were going to respond after last night because theyre a well-coached team, St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel said of Maine. Its tough to sweep a team ... but once again in the third period we found a way to get it done and thats really nice to see.
Much like in Fridays game when the Black Bears closed to within a goal in the second period, the Saints responded.
I think its exciting for us to kind of see how guys perform under the big pressure, Carey said.
After Matt Anthoine tied the game for Maine at 2-2 with his power-play goal at 12:00 of the third period, Ward responded with the go-ahead goal, with Gunnar Hughes assisting, three minutes later.
We played a poor second period and a real good third until we let them get to us, Maine coach Dennis Red Gendron said. We made mistakes at a critical time of the game and they made us pay.
Ward took a pass from Hughes and ripped a drive from the top of the slot that eluded Maine goalie Martin Ouellette (33 saves).
That was a great play by Gunnar who came into zone, had a little time and pulled up, Carvel said. And Pat Doherty drove the net, which opened up room for the developing play for Brian, who got rid of the puck real quick.
Carey responded moments later by scoring on a blast not far from where Ward took his shot to provide St. Lawrence with a 4-2 advantage and then added an empty-net goal with 1.4 seconds left.
Weninger has stopped 124 of 128 shots in four wins against Maine.
Thats what we need him to be, Carey said. Hes a crucial part of our team and when hes making great saves, its exciting to know that when we make a mistake, hes there to bail us out.
Freshman defenseman Gavin Bayreuther and senior assistant captain Jeremy Wick scored a goal each for the Saints. Wick provided the Saints with a 3-2 lead entering the final period with a tally with 7.7 seconds left, with Carey assisting.
Both Ward and Bayreuther have scored a goal in each game to start the season for the Saints.
Were getting contributions from our freshmen, Carvel said. Plus, Carey scored those two late goals. Thats the scoring balance that we need.
The Saints will take another early-season trip to the Midwest as they play at Ferris State at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.