The age-old phrase, 'close, but no cigar,' could be used to describe Penn State's series against St. Lawrence, which was tied for the majority of the 120 minutes that were played.
The Nittany Lions (5-12-1, 1-8-1 CHA) dropped the first game of the weekend, 3-1, to the Saints (10-7-1, 6-2-0 ECAC) on Friday in a contest that was settled in the third period. The Lions bounced back and grabbed the lead in the first period of game two, but held it for less than two minutes and were ultimately swept with a 4-2 defeat Saturday.
"It always hurts a little more to lose the close ones," head coach Josh Brandwene said, "but at the same time, what a great effort to have an opportunity against the defending [Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference] champs."
In addition to winning the 2012 ECAC tournament, in which the Saints had three players make the All-Tournament Team, St. Lawrence earned a birth in the eight-team NCAA Tournament. The Saints were ousted in the first round by No. 4-seeded Boston College, but Saints head coach Chris Wells was named the 2012 American Hockey Coaches Association Coach of the Year.
Penn State assistant coach Gina Kearns said St. Lawrence has a good program in Canton, N.Y., and that the Saints' sharpness, composure and poise stood out to her this weekend.
"With every pass, with every play, with every power play, penalty kill, they're just very sharp," Kearns said. "They never faltered. They never blinked. They never got too nervous and they were able to keep their composure and get that game-winning goal."
The assistant coach said the storyline against the Saints was much the same as it was against Mercyhurst last weekend. The Boston University grad also said the 'never-quit' attitude has been apparent in the last four games.
Forward Jess Desorcie said this weekend was a step in the right direction for the Lions and it was nice to hang with a team that is in a different league and is defined in its past.
The Westford, Vt. native said the Lions put their best effort forward and left everything they had out on the ice in Appleton Arena. She also described the weekend as a confidence booster.
"This next semester, we have everything to gain and nothing to lose and we know that we can keep playing with those top teams," Desorice said. "Hopefully, we can get some more wins, especially in the CHA."
Brandwene also drew connections to the Mercyhurst series and said the Lions have grown as much as they have all season long just in past two weeks. The Penn State grad ('91) also said the team's coverage on faceoffs was the best it has been all year and the Lions have shown how "coachable" they are.
"They've picked up on things. They're willing to learn," Brandwene said. "They're willing to work hard and get better every day and they're doing everything we're asking of them and I'm incredibly proud of that."