A preview of the St.Lawrence team by Rhonda R. McClure from The Pink Puck. Follow Rhonda and The Pink Puck on Twitter for all things hockey. And be sure to check out ThePinkPuck.com for articles and interviews—including coverage of The Friendship Four tournament, as Rhonda once again will be visiting Belfast for the tournament.

The Saint Lawrence University “Skating Saints,” with just two breaks due to World War II, have had a men’s hockey team since 1925. The team, who don the scarlet and brown colors, have made 16 NCAA tournament appearances since the 1951-52 season, including representing their school nine times in the Frozen Four and its antecedent.

They played in the championship game in 1961 and 1988. Their 1988 appearance saw them lose to Lake Superior State University at the Olympic Arena in Lake Placid, New York—home of the 1980 USA Olympic Miracle Team. The 1987-88 season was the Saints most successful in team history with an overall record of 29-9-0. The Saints also have the distinction of having played in the longest NCAA tournament game on record. It was a 3-2 quadruple overtime victory over the Boston University Terriers, which advanced the Saints to the Frozen Four where they fell in the National Semifinals to the Boston College Eagles.

For Saint Lawrence University, located in Canton, New York, their biggest rival is Clarkson University, located just 11 miles northeast in Potsdam, New York. Games between these two teams are said to be as intense as they come. Belfast Giants defenseman Matt Nickerson knows something of this rivalry as he attended Clarkson. St. Lawrence displayed a sign that said “Nickerson Eats Babies” at one of these games, after Nickerson had set an NCAA single season penalty minute record. Perhaps this is why the Belfast Giants will be on the road during this year’s Friendship Four?

The Saints have a new coach this season, Mark Morris, a graduate of Colgate University (one of the schools in the inaugural Friendship Four last year), who was named in May, 2016, succeeding Greg Carvel who had been there for four seasons. Carvel must really have wanted to come to Belfast though because he is now head Morris is the only coach to have won 300 collegiate games and over 300 professional games.

Saint Lawrence University is a school of just 2,000 students, one of the smallest schools to play Division 1 hockey. In all other sports they are a Division III school. But don’t let their size fool you, they speak to some impressive alumni including retired –NHLer Richard Peverley who won the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins in 2011; current NHL players Brandon Bollig with the Calgary Flames and John Zeller with the Los Angeles Kings; and Ray Shero, general manager of the New Jersey Devils to name just a few.

The Saints record so far this season overall is 6-4-2, and within their conference they are 3-0-1. Goaltender Kyle Hayton, a junior, was named ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Week on November 8, for his back-to-back shutouts with wins over Princeton and Quinnipiac (who will also be in Belfast this year) during the weekend of November 4th and 5th. These were Hayton’s 9th and 10th shutouts of his career, helping him to surpass Bill Sloan, Class of 1956, who held the record of most shutouts for the last 60 years.

Given that Hayton denied Quinnipiac on November 5th, it is likely that both teams will be bringing memories of that game with them to Belfast. That should make for an interesting and entertaining semi-final game on Friday between the two schools.

NI Connections Friendship Four Tickets

Prices for the 4-Game Weekend Pass, which is the only way to access all four NI Connections Friendship Four tournament games, are on sale now at: Adult – £40, Concession (Student/Over 65s) – £30, Child (16 & Under) – £20 and Family (2 Adults & 2 Kids) – £99. Click here to buy online.

The Weekend Pass is also available for the ‘Super Seats’, Centre Ice on South Side, at: Adult – £50, Concession – £40, Child – £30, Family – £139

Tickets are now on sale for both 7:30pm games on Friday & Saturday, click here for UMass v Vermont on Friday and click here for Saturday’s Friendship Four final game. Tickets for the individual games are on sale at: Adult – £16, Concession – £11, Child – £9, Family – £44.