The men’s hockey team is bent on proving wrong the media and ECAC coaches that picked Colgate to finish 10th in the ECAC in this upcoming season, and they have started off on the right foot. Colgate earned victories in its first two games of the season against UMass-Lowell (2-1) and Bentley University (4-1), both at home.
“In our league, you learn quickly that not a lot of importance is put on the preseason polls, since it’s a very competitive conference. You need to be ready to play every game, regardless of where your opponent stands on the polls,” Vaughan stated.
And Colgate was ready to play, indeed. On Friday, October 11, the Colgate hosted UMass-Lowell in the season opener. Both teams played tentative and conservative hockey in the first period. Lowell contolled the puck for most of the time in the beginning, but as the period progressed, Colgate controlled the puck more. Both teams went to the locker room with the score tied at zero.
In the second period, Colgate got back to where it left off at the end of the first, controlling the puck and forcing the Riverhawks to commit penalties. One such penalty led to the first Raider goal on a power play. At the 9:18 mark, sophomore defenseman Wade Poplawski put the Raiders ahead off assists from sophomore Brian Day and senior Jason Fredricks. But five minutes later, UMass-Lowell scored the tying goal.
Just when the 1,070 people at Starr Rink thought that the teams were going to go to the second intermission at a 1-1 tie, junior forward David McIntyre scored what proved to be the game-winning goal off an assist from first-year Austin Smith, with only thirteen seconds left in the period.
In the third period, the Raiders held on to the win by keeping control of the puck and killing off a 57-second five-on-three power play with about twelve minutes left in the period. Junior goaltender Charles Long’s play proved crucial in the keeping the Raiders ahead.
“I just kept yelling at the defense to keep battling and fighting. They had so many one-timers that they didn’t take. We had lost a bit of momentum after their first goal, and I wanted to keep it going,” Long said.
This was a game of firsts for Long, as he earned his first career win, stopping 23 of the 24 shots against him. His performance earned him the ECAC Goaltender of the Week award. The Raiders were outshot by the Riverhawks, 24-16.
Head Coach Don Vaughan found himself more than satisfied with his team’s performance.
“I thought we had good energy. When we were playing well, we pressured the puck well. Our penalty kill was exceptional,” Coach Vaughan stated.
Six days after their first victory, the Raiders hosted Bentley. The Raiders came out roaring and had complete control of the puck for virtually the entire game. They had several good opportunities in the first few minutes of the period but they could not capitalize.
The first goal of the game came at the 8:20 mark, when sophomore forward Fran?cois Brisebois deflected a shot by David McIntyre into the net. Senior Captain Nick St. Pierre was credited with the second assist. After the first goal, the Raiders would dominate the remainder of the period, allowing Bentley only two shots on first-year net minder Alex Evin. There were 26 seconds left in the first period when Brian Day scored the game-winning goal off assists from St. Pierre and senior defenseman David Sloane.
“It’s always good to get the first goal of the season under your belt, especially with 26 seconds left in the period. Nick St. Pierre gave me a great pass that ended up being the game-winning goal,” Day said on scoring his first goal of the season.
After the first intermission, Colgate followed the strategy it had followed throughout the entire game, which was to keep controlling the puck and avoid Bentley from taking possession of it. The Raiders increased their lead to 3-0 when Austin Smith scored off assists from senior forward Peter Bogdanich and junior Ethan Cox. The Texas native got his first goal and assist in his first two games as a Colgate Raider.
“In the first game, it was nice to get my first assist on such a crucial goal, the game-winner, to help our team get the first win. The first goal is always hard to come by and my fellow linemates, Bogdanich and Cox, made a great play to get the puck to me,” Smith declared.
Day would score a second time off assists from linemates McIntyre and senior assistant captain Tom Riley to make the score 4-0. Evin, in his first career start, was close to getting his first career shutout, but his hopes were dashed when Bentley took advantage of a power play at the 12:33 mark of the third period.
“In our league, you learn quickly that not a lot of importance is put on the preseason polls, since it’s a very competitive conference. You need to be ready to play every game, regardless of where your opponent stands on the polls”, Vaughan stated.
The Raiders’ next challenge will be the Governor’s Cup at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY. They will play Robert Morris University in the semifinals. Their opponent the next day will come out of the matchup between Union and RPI.