Men’s Hockey Ends Regular Season on Down Note

Ruben Leavitt

The men’s ice hockey team endured a tough weekend to close out their regular season when it tied No. 20 Harvard, 3-3 and got pasted by Dartmouth, 5-2.

On Friday night, the lead exchanged hands three times according to the ebb and flow of penalties. Both coaches were visibly frustrated with the officiating, but would not comment specifically on the referees.

“Penalties have a lot to do with the momentum of a game,” Raiders Head Coach Don Vaughan said after the game, and that was certainly applicable on Friday night.

Colgate got on the board late in the first period off an unassisted Messier-esque goal by sophomore Ethan Cox, who skated up the right side and slapped one past Harvard goalie Kyle Richter that rattled around the inside of the cage. But Harvard roared back in the opening minute of the second after Paul Dufault knocked one home through senior goalie Mark Dekanich’s five-hole, and Alex Biega scored off a faceoff win to give Harvard the 2-1 lead at 7:13.

Sophomore David McIntyre knotted the score at two for Colgate 12 minutes into the second, and the Raiders retook the lead a quarter of the way into the third period thanks to senior Mike Werner’s first goal of the season. The score came after senior Dustin Gillanders stole the puck at the blue line and sent it to Werner, who finished off the play.

“Better late than never,” Werner candidly said, but he felt that it would have been nicer if it were the game-winning goal.

Harvard tied up the score a little after the half-way point in the third on a power play goal by Doug Rogers. Both teams had quality chances in the overtime period, but neither was able to cash in. Senior Mark Dekanich capped off the period with a stellar glove save in the waning seconds to keep Harvard off the board and seal the tie. Both coaches felt that their respective goaltenders had pretty good nights.

“[Richter and Dekanich] both set the bar pretty high,” Crimson Coach Ted Donato commented, which Coach Vaughan affirmed.

“We’re so used to watching them stop everything….they did make some big stops tonight as well, though,” Vaughan said. Richter and Dekanich ended the game with 25 and 26 saves respectively.

Colgate next hosted Dartmouth, who was tied for last place in the ECAC heading into the game on Saturday afternoon. After suffering a disheartening 6-0 loss to Cornell the previous night, the Big Green bounced back with a 5-2 win against Colgate.

“The guys really rebounded well against an excellent team,” Dartmouth Head Coach Bob Gaudet said after the game. “Colgate is a good, skilled team, but we capitalized when we had good opportunities.”

Unfortunately, the Raiders could not do the same. Colgate went zero-for-three on the power play and struggled to hit the back of the net throughout the evening. After a scoreless and penalty-less first period, the Raiders opened up the second period by putting themselves short-handed two players. Dartmouth’s Nick Johnson broke open the scoring on the five-on-three at 2:39. The Raiders quickly responded, however, to knot the score at one. After killing off what remained of the 5-on-4, first-year Wade Poplawski headed for the bench instead of going straight onto the ice to help his team in the defensive zone. As first-year Francois Brisebois hit the ice to replace Poplawski, junior Jason Fredericks blocked a point shot and tossed a pass to Brisebois who stood alone at the opposing blue-line. On the breakaway, Brisebois made a backhand-to-forehand deke which got Big Green netminder Mike Devine to shift his position, leaving his five-hole vulnerable. Brisebois slid the puck between the goalie’s legs for his first career collegiate goal.

The Big Green took back the lead 10 minutes later on another Nick Johnson power play goal in a scrum in front of the net. After the intermission, Dartmouth extended the score early in the third to 3-1 thanks to an even-strength goal courtesy of Peter Boldt. The Raider defense then broke down, as Dartmouth netted two more goals in the last five minutes, one of those also on the power play. Senior Ben Camper capped off the game’s scoring with 31 seconds left. The special teams units once again led to the team’s downfall. Dartmouth went four-for-five on the power play, while Colgate did not take advantage of its three extra-man opportunities.

“It was obviously disappointing,” Coach Vaughan said about the loss. “You got to give Dartmouth credit – they came in and played a good game after a tough loss last night.” Coach Vaughan also tipped his hat to Devine, who he thought made at least three spectacular saves.

“If we got one or two of those it could’ve been a different game,” he said. Coach Vaughan lamented his “anemic” power play unit, which he pointed out, has struggled all year to be productive. However, all is not lost, as Colgate was never in jeopardy of traveling in the first round.

“We put ourselves in a position to be at home through the playoffs,” Vaughan said. “The slate gets wiped clean this week. We have to focus on getting two wins next weekend.”

Colgate will go into the playoffs as the eighth seed for the second year in a row and will host ninth-seed St. Lawrence in a two-out-of-three game series. This playoff round will mark the third time in the last six years that Colgate will face the Saints in the league playoffs. Last year, top-seeded St. Lawrence ended Colgate’s season by sweeping the Raiders in the quarterfinals. Games one and two will be at Starr Rink on Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. If necessary, a Sunday night showdown between the two teams will take place at 7 p.m. in Hamilton.