Special teams, Petizian lead Saints to opening win of 2008-09 season
St. Lawrence University cashed in on its special teams and an outstanding goaltending performance by junior Alex Petizian to turn back Niagara University 5-1 for the Saints' first win of the 2008-09 season.
The Saints won at one of the toughest arenas in the nation over the last three years for visiting teams as Niagara had a 34-7-6 record in its last 47 games at home and had the added energy of raising a College Hockey America tournament championship and NCAA participation banner prior to the start of the game.
"I thought we weathered their early emotion well," said Saint coach Joe Marsh. "Alex made some big saves and then Aaron Bogosian made a huge play on the penalty kill and that got things turned around for us. It was also good to see us cash in on the power play and have three basically different units each score a goal with the man advantage."
The Eagles took the play to the Saints early in the game, but Petizian was up to the task with a number of early saves. The Saints, who did not allow a Niagara shot on goal on the first of two Purple Eagle power plays, went one better on the second one, scoring the game's first goal. Bogosian started the scoring play, picking off a Niagara pass just inside the Saint blue line and skating through the neutral zone. Bogosian skated to the top of the faceoff circle in the Niagara end and then circled back as a defenseman challenged him. Travis Vermeulen came into the zone on Bogosian's left and one-timed a pass from Bogosian just under the crossbar at 13:04 for the shorthanded goal.
Petizian kept it a 1-0 game when he stuffed Hogansburg's Ted Cook, a Niagara senior who has had a lot of scoring success against the Saints, in a one-on-one confrontation just inside the final minute of the period.
Saint special teams struck again just 45 seconds into the second period as Brock McBride took a pass from Mike McKenzie at the side of the net on the power play and skated across the front of the crease. McBride, showing great patience, drew Niagara starting goalie Juliano Pagliero with him and then tucked it back behind the goalie for his second of the season. Shawn Fensel also assisted on McBride's second goal of the season.
Niagara killed off a five-on-three power play by the Saints, but took a third straight penalty just 11 seconds after returning to full strength, and this time the Saints made them pay. Rookie Brandon Bollig scored his second Saint goal as he tucked his own rebound behind Pagliaro from Bogosian and Jeff Caister at 4:33.
The Purple Eagles finally cracked the scoreboard at 8:21 of the second period when Paul Zanette jammed home his first of the season from point blank range after Brian Dowd worked the puck away from the Saint defense behind the net, but the Saints answered that when McKenzie did a great job taking the puck away from Niagara backup goalie Adam Avaramenko behind the net to set up an empty net goal for Casey Parenteau. McBride sent the puck in deep and Avaramenko went to play it, but McKenzie beat the goalie to it and Parenteau crashed the net to bury his first of the year and give the Saints a 4-1 lead at 14:45 of the second.
The Saints killed off a stretch of five on three to start the third period and then cashed in for the third time on the power play with transfer Augie DiMarzo hitting a wide open net on a rebound of a shot by Vermeulen. It was DiMarzo's first official goal in a Saint uniform with Alex Curran also assisting on the play at 6:55 to make it a 5-1 game.
Petizian finished with 22 saves for the Saints, who outshot Niagara 31-23. The two Purple Eagle goalies combined for 26 saves.
"We saw a lot of good things tonight, and we will be out to finish off a solid road weekend in Rochester tomorrow. We"ll get some different guys in there, but if we get the same kind of effort and intensity, it could be another good night," said Marsh.