CANTON — The St. Lawrence University men’s hockey jerseys were the same recognizable red ones from past years.
But the team that played in those jerseys Thursday afternoon at Appleton Arena was not the same one area fans have seen recently.
The Saints ended in a 2-2 tie with 12th-ranked Quinnipiac and lost the first shootout in ECAC Hockey history, 1-0, on a goal from Odeen Tufto, who leads the nation in scoring.
Quinnipiac (6-2-1 overall, 0-0-1 conference) picked up two points in the game and the Saints finished with one. Had either team won in regulation they would have received three points.
“I thought we did some good things,” Saints coach Brent Brekke said. “It’s been close to 10 months since we played a hockey game. It was just exciting to be out there. The guys were fired up to get out and play. Just getting on the ice to compete was big.”
SLU was playing its first game in 299 days and its latest opening game since the 1950-51 season. SLU had eight potential nonconference games postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19 issues either on their own campus or with a potential opponent.
But the Saints started strong when freshman Greg Lapointe, who just arrived on campus last week, scored 3 minutes, 42 seconds into the game.
“It’s a good feeling,” Lapointe said of his quick impact. “I wish we would have came away with the victory. I guess we’ll get it on Sunday (at Quinnipiac). It takes the stress (of college) out. There is still a little bit. It’s a lot to learn all the systems in a week or so. (The coaches) have done a good job to get me into it.”
Lapointe, who turned 20 on Friday and is from Granby, Quebec, played for the Coquitlam Express of the British Columbia Hockey League last year, scoring 29 goals with 31 assists in 56 games.
His quick success with SLU did not shock Brekke.
“He’s a pure goal-scorer, that’s what he is, he’s always done that at every level,” Brekke said. “He’s a dynamite hockey player. I was kind of expecting and hoping for (goals) early and often.”
SLU faced a Quinnipiac team that entered averaging 4.25 goals and leads the nation with 14 power-play goals, scoring 29.8 percent of the time with an extra player on the ice.
But SLU controlled play in the first period, allowing only three shots the first 10 minutes of the game and finishing with an 11-8 advantage.
But the Saints got in trouble with penalties in the second period as Quinnipiac played nearly half the period on the power play. SLU killed all five, but was outshot 15-4 in a scoreless middle period.
“We got ourselves into trouble in the second period with penalties,” Brekke said. “That’s a team that clicks on close to 30 percent on the power play. You can’t give that team those types of opportunities. If you want to be a good team, or a great team, you have to have discipline in your game and we got away from that.”
Tufto tied the game 1-1 with a goal at 6:08 of the third period. Defenseman Ethan de Jong got to a loose puck behind the Saints goal line to set up the goal, which came on a pass from Ethan Leyh.
The Saints responded at 9:52 to take a 2-1 lead on a goal from Cameron Buhl, redirecting an outshot shot from Tim Makowski. Madrid native Kaden Pickering picked up his second assist of the game on the play.
Quinnipiac pulled goalie Keith Petruzzelli for an extra skater at 17:08 and 13 seconds later tied the game with a goal from Ty Smilanic.
Neither team scored in overtime with the Bobcats holding a slim 3-2 edge in shots.
SLU failed to score on all three of its shootout attempts and after Quinnipiac missed its first two Tufto ended the game with a shot that squeaked through the legs of Saints goalie Emil Zetterquist.