Martin Scores Two, Gunnar Hughes Nets the Winner in 4-3 Decision vs. Harvard
Not having leading scorer Kyle Flanagan for Saturday night's ECAC Hockey matchup with Harvard did not seem like a good way to come up with a split of the weekend home series for the Saint men's hockey team.
But, rookies Chris Martin, Gunnar Hughes and Justin Bruckel combined for three goals and two assists and sophomore goalie Matt Weninger came through with a number of big saves among 30 for the game and the Saints turned back the Crimson, 4-3, snapping a two game losing streak to Harvard.
The Saints, 4-6-0 overall and 4-2-0 in ECAC play, lost Flanagan, one of the top scorers in the league, to an upper body injury in Friday's 3-1 loss to Dartmouth, but rookies responded to top the Crimson, now 2-3-1 in both league play and overall. The four goals represent the second most productive night of the season for the Saints.
"We emphasized getting some shots through to the net and it paid off tonight," said Saint associate head coach Mike Hurlbut. "It was great to see Martin and Bruckel step up with some big plays and for Gunnar to get his first career goal and have it be a game winner. We hope to have Kyle back soon, but seeing production from some different guys was encouraging."
Harvard, which got all three goals from its defense, broke on top on the first power play chance of the game as freshman Patrick McNally scored his second goal of the year, completing a rush into the Saint end with a backhand just inside the far post 5:06 into the game.
Martin brought the Saints even with a power play goal, his second of the season as he took a pass from defenseman George Hughes and beat Harvard freshman goaltender Steve Michalek from in close at 7:19 of the first and SLU went in front when senior captain Jacob Drewiske scored his second of the year from short range near the left post off a pretty feed from Bruckel on the power play at 14:49.
Junior defenseman Danny Biega scored his fourth of the season just 36 seconds into the second period on a power play that carried over from the first period, but the Saints went back in front when Drewiske won a faceoff in the Harvard end and defenseman Riley Austin sent the puck to Martin along the side boards. Martin's quick wrist shot caught the inside of the post and fell into the net at 10:18 as Michalek never moved on the shot.
Harvard tied it one more time as sophomore defenseman Dan Ford scored his first of the season on a shot from the point which went just under the crossbar at 8:20 of the third, but Gunnar Hughes scored the game winner 3:32 later when his dipping shot hit the heel of Michalek's glove and went into the net at 11:52. Bruckel earned his second assist of the night on the game winning goal as Hughes' first goal came against his father's alma mater.
The Saints had to play 9:30 of the second period and the whole third with just five defenseman as George Hughes was called for a major and a game misconduct in a scrum in front of the Harvard net at 11:30 of the second period, but the Saints killed off three minutes of Harvard power play and did not take another penalty the rest of the way.
Weninger came up with a big save on Harvard's Alex Killorn with under a minute to go and while the Crimson pulled Michalek for an extra attacker, they couldn't come up with the equalizer. Michalek finished with 28 saves for the Crimson as Harvard had a slight 33-32 edge in shots on goal for the game.