Weninger Outstanding in 1-0 Loss at Cornell
St. Lawrence University hockey goalie Matt Weninger experienced an all-too-familiar feeling at Cornell's Lynah Rink on Friday night as he came through with a scintillating performance in net, but his Saint teammates couldn't find sufficient offensive support as Cornell skated to a 1-0 win over the Saints before a sellout crowd of 4267.
Weninger finished with 22 saves, many of them spectacular, but the Saints scored less than two goals for the 24th time in his 40 career starts as they slip to 5-8-0 overall and 4-3-0 in league play. SLU was held to just eight shots through two periods and while they had their chances and did put nine shots on Cornell goalie Andy Iles in the third, they couldn't come up with the equalizer.
"Matt did a tremendous job, and I thought we were pretty solid defensively for the most part," said Saint associate head coach Mike Hurlbut. "But Cornell did a tremendous job getting their sticks on passes and shots and really bottled us up defensively."
Cornell, ranked 17th nationally, improves to 7-3-0 overall and 6-1-0 in league play after outshooting the Saints 23-13. The Saints will continue their weekend series at 15th ranked Colgate on Saturday.
The Saint task for the weekend was made more daunting by a Wednesday afternoon practice injury to junior defenseman George Hughes, who is expected to be out of the lineup until the Dartmouth tournament with an upper body injury. With both Hughes and junior center Kyle Flanagan sidelined due to injury, two of the Saints' top players, the already challenging weekend set becomes even more difficult.
"We haven't had too many injuries thus far this season, but the ones we have had are to impact players," said Hurlbut. "It is a part of the game, and while you never want to see anyone out due to injury, it does open the door for someone else to step up."
The Saints found themselves in trouble early at Lynah as Jeremy Wick was assessed a five-minute contact to the head penalty and the automatic game misconduct which goes with that penalty just 2:40 into the game. They were able to kill off the major with the help of several huge saves by Weninger, but Cornell was able to cash in on its second power play of the period at 14:18.
Senior defenseman Nick D'Agostino scored his seventh goal of the year with just three seconds left in a Big Red Power play at 14:18. D'Agostino was all alone in front, about eight feet out when the Saints turned the puck over deep and John Esposito pounced on it, passing it out in front. D'Agostino's quick shot slid just inside the far post with Weninger unable to react in time to stop it.
While the Saints had three power play opportunities in the first eight minutes of the second period, they could not cut into the Cornell lead and managed just one shot on goal in those three chances against an excellent Big Red penalty kill. The closest the Saints came to tying the game came with 8:50 when Pete Child's shot from the center point glanced off the inside of the post, but stayed out of the net.
Weninger kept it a one-goal game with a big save on Esposito early in the first and the Saints had two power play chances in the final six minutes and then had a good scoring chance on a shot from the point by Nelson Armstrong with Weninger pulled for an extra attacker with under a minute to go, but couldn't get the puck past Iles.