Team of the Week: St. Lawrence
by Joe Meloni/Senior Writer
Quinnipiac's 21-game unbeaten run wasn't on the minds of St. Lawrence's players and coaches when last Friday's game began. The two ECAC points at stake were. The same was true the next evening against a struggling Princeton team. This mindset, playing well and brining the same intensity regarding an opponent's record, led to two wins for the Saints and earned them CHN's Team of the Week honors.
St. Lawrence defeated Quinnipiac, 2-1, Friday night in Hamden, Conn., before picking up a 3-2 with over Princeton 24 hours later. The wins lifted SLU into a third-place tie with Union in the ECAC standings. With the top four ECAC clubs receiving a bye in the first round of the conference tournament, maintain that position will be important for SLU coach Greg Carvel and his team.
"We're a very thin team. We dress everyone on our roster," Carvel said. "We lost a couple guys before the season even started, so getting the bye would be huge from that standpoint."
For most of the second half, Quinnipiac's success has been a national talking point. Carvel and his team have been relatively strong since returning from the winter break, as well. The Saints are 8-3-2 in their last 13 games. Last week's sweep of the ECAC's southern most clubs gave SLU a three-game win streak.
Carvel saw his team execute near-perfect for long stretches last weekend, but the wins didn't come with their share of struggles. After Hobey Baker candidate Greg Carey gave SLU a 2-1 lead 2 minutes, 30 seconds into the third period, the Saints survived a 17-shot onslaught from the Bobcats to finish the win. Similarly, Princeton added two goals in the third period on Saturday to turn a 3-0 lead into a tight 3-2 finish.
"Earlier in the season, I think we would've blown both of those games," Carvel said. "The last couple seasons here haven't been too successful. We've been in the process of learning how to win again. I think at this point in the same, we've been a lot better at certain things you have to do to get wins in this league."
Carey linemate Kyle Flanagan receive a majority of the attention given their gaudy scoring numbers. Carvel is happy, however, with the overall effort and performance of his entire club since returning from the break. Consistent play from all four lines and three defensive pairings and allowed SLU's more offensively gifted players to influence games.
Additionally, a newfound commitment to three-zone play from the entire roster in 2012-13 has made the Saints a better team and more difficult opponent. Next weekend, the Saints host both Harvard and Dartmouth with more points on the line. Neither team presents the type of challenge Quinnipiac did, but they will expect to leave Canton, N.Y., with points. Carvel is confident his team knowns not to take these opponents likely. This is something he couldn't say with certainty just two months ago.
"At this point in the year, we know it's more about your team than it is about your opponent," Carvel said. "We're happy with our team. We're at a point right now where we've learned enough lessons the hard way this year. We know Harvard and Darmouth are going to come hard at us.
"We know we have to come hard as well with energy. If we do that, our skill guys will score points for us."