Two Goals = Three Points for Men’s Hockey

As Head Coach Don Vaughan noted, a pair of losses to rival Cornell on late goals can devastate many teams. If so, the Raiders showed they are much stronger, as they traveled to the North Country last weekend and beat St. Lawrence 2-1 last Friday and played No. 13 Clarkson to a scoreless tie the following night to complete a three-point weekend.

Colgate’s trip to the North Country got off to a flying start when senior Tyler Burton scored on each of his first two shifts. Classmate Jesse Winchester intercepted a pass in the St. Lawrence zone, and then found Burton with a perfect centering pass just 23 seconds into the game. Just over three minutes later, junior Peter Bogdanich carried the puck into the attacking zone off another turnover. He passed to Winchester in the right corner and Burton deflected the Raider captain’s subsequent feed past Saints goalie John Hallas to double the lead. Burton, Winchester and Bogdanich each had two points on the night.

“That was definitely a big lift,” Vaughan said. “We hadn’t played with the lead much lately, so it was big to go up by two at a tough place to play. It helped us play loose, which seems to make us a better a team,” he added.

St. Lawrence pulled within a goal midway through the second period. With sophomore Jason Williams penalized for interference, Shawn Fensel’s slapshot deflected off a Raider and into the net at 12:34. The Saints outshot Colgate 12-8 in the third period, but Jared Ross hit the crossbar at 9:56, and the Raiders held on for the win.

Senior Mark Dekanich made 26 saves for the Raiders to earn the victory, which also gave Vaughan the 250th win of his career, fittingly coming at his alma mater.

“I hadn’t really thought about it until [I got] texted afterwards,” he said. “It speaks a lot about the players we’ve had over the years and to a bit of longevity, but I’m really focused on each individual game right now. Everyone’s fighting for points.”

Colgate and Clarkson’s first meeting on Friday, January 18th was a tight defensive struggle in which the Raiders came back to earn a 1-1 draw. The Raiders’ return engagement in Potsdam was virtually a mirror image, as both teams played strong defensive games behind Dekanich and the Golden Knights’ goalie David Leggio. Clarkson outshot Colgate 23-15, but both goalies showed why they have won Ken Dryden Awards as the best in their conference by stopping everything in their path when the defense could not.

Dekanich recorded his fourth shutout of the season and his ninth shutout as a Raider, breaking the record he shared with former teammate Steve Silverthorn ’05. His 2.02 goals-against-average and .928 save percentage are both conference bests. Also, Dekanich won the ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Week award last Monday for his amazing efforts against St. Lawrence and Clarkson.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” Coach Vaughan declared. “This is a defensively sound conference and Mark’s one of the best. He’s a true athlete, goaltender and ambassador for Colgate.”

The Raiders finish the regular season with four of six games at Starr Rink, beginning with Rensselaer tomorrow night. RPI won the early-season Governor’s Cup, but Colgate returned the favor last month with a 4-0 shutout in Troy. On Saturday, Union visits in search of a season sweep after winning 5-4 in the previous contest.

“We can expect more tight checking games. I can’t emphasize the importance of staying focused for 60 minutes enough every night because we’ve seen lately that one shift can be the difference between winning and losing,” Vaughan said. “Also, it’s tough to win on the road, especially in the ECAC tournament, so we need to capitalize on home games to give ourselves a chance at the top-four and a bye,” Coach Vaughan added.

The men’s hockey team will join their female counterparts in supporting ECAC Hockey’s “Pink at the Rink” initiative for cancer awareness. During each night’s warm-up, the players will don pink jerseys, just as the women did for last weekend’s games.