Men’s Hockey Destroys Capitol Region Teams

Ruben Leavitt

Historic is the best term to describe the men’s hockey team’s 4-0 and 8-0 victories against RPI and Union, respectively, last week. By the end of the weekend, two school records and one ECACHL record had been broken. After grabbing the school record for shutouts the week before, senior goaltender Mark Dekanich extended his shutout streak to 212:14, a Colgate and ECACHL-best, with his third consecutive blanking. He tied the school record for consecutive shutouts and also leads the NCAA in save percentage with a .932 mark, justifying his status as the reigning ECAC Goaltender of the Week Award. Furthermore, Head Coach Don Vaughan recorded his 251st and 252nd victories, surpassing the late Terry Slater (1977-1992) as the winningest coach in Colgate hockey history.

“It’s nice to hold records but the important stat is the one in the win column,” Dekanich remarked after the RPI game.

“I’m honored,” Vaughan noted about the feat. The night before, Vaughan admitted that he had not really thought about the record coming into the weekend, but on Saturday evening, he mentioned that the record started to enter his mind.

“[I started to think] about all the guys who contributed [to my success] – my assistant coaches, Mike Harder, Andy McDonald, Joey Mormina. I definitely felt a little bit of nostalgia.”

In the RPI game, juniors Joe DeBello and Nick St. Pierre combined on the prettiest goal of the year. With eyes in the back of his helmet, St. Pierre slid a between-the-legs pass to DeBello, who fired a quick wrist shot into the goal at the 5:56 mark of the first period. Sophomore David McIntyre scored Colgate’s second goal near the crease at 6:11 of the second period near the crease. Classmate Jason Williams one-timed the third goal after receiving a nifty feed from sophomore Ethan Cox, who did great work in drawing RPI defenseman as he glided up the left side of the ice. That score gave Colgate a 3-0 lead with less than a minute to go before the end of the second period. Junior Tom Riley finished off the scoring in the third period with a low shot through a sea of players into the net.

The Raiders outshot RPI 30-9 in the game, marking the second-fewest total an opposing team has shot against the Raiders in team history.

Vaughan understandably felt that the Raiders played a solid game on Friday night.

“We didn’t give [RPI] any Grade-A chances, and we kept their shots to the outside,” Vaughan said.

“It’s an indicator that everyone is on their game. Secondary scoring is what wins championships,” Dekanich added.

In game two on Saturday night against the Union Dutchmen, the Raiders pulled out all the stops as they steamrolled to an 8-0 victory. Riley started the ball rolling when he fired a shot at Union goalie Corey Milan, who stopped the puck but couldn’t prevent the disc from sliding its way into the net. Fifty seconds later, Cox fired a low shot into the net, sending the crowd into a frenzy and giving the Raiders a 2-0 lead. Winchester fed Burton for the team’s third goal with less than a minute remaining in the first period. After the first break, Justin Mzarek took over for Milan, but the floodgates did not close. Burton and St. Pierre scored before the second intermission, and McIntyre notched another goal to make it 6-0 at the 10:34 mark of the third period.

With the Raiders on the power play in the closing minutes, Coach Vaughan made an interesting choice to send out Matt Torti, a 6’5″ senior defenseman, on the forward line with Burton and Winchester.

“We decided to give it a whirl and see what it looked like,” Coach Vaughan admitted after the game. Well, the line change paid off. Winchester, from the right corner, zipped a pass to Torti who had crept toward the Union goal undefended. Torti merely had to tap the puck into the open side for the goal.After the game, Burton and Dekanich both indicated how happy they were to see the “Big Ugly,” as Torti is affectionately called by his teammates, score. Junior Mark Anderson, a Nebraska native, finished the scoring with a goal with 3:25 left in the game.

“Hockey is a game of momentum,” Vaughan said afterwards, and the momentum seemed to be wholly in the Raiders favor throughout the evening.

Burton and Winchester each had three points (Burton two goals and an assist while Winchester had three assists) on Saturday night to lead the scoring. For those keeping score at home, the Raiders’ eight goals on Saturday were recorded by seven different players.

“We really killed them [on Saturday night],” Dekanich said excitedly. “It’s great to see our secondary and primary scorers getting on the board. It’s a lot more fun to play with a lead.”

“We’ve had trouble at time scoring goals this season,” Coach Vaughan admitted. “We can’t expect it to go [like it did tonight]….We’ve got some real battles ahead of us.”

The weekend sweep boosted the Raiders’ overall record to above .500 for the first time since October and their league record to 7-7-4, placing them in decent position to take one of the top four spots for home-ice advantage in the ECAC quarterfinals. Also, Colgate finished the weekend with 75 face-off wins for its “Facing off Against Cancer” pledge drive, coordinated by sophomore Ethan Cox. The Raiders also donned their pink jerseys during each game’s warm-ups to honor the Pink at the Rink promotion. The jerseys are for sale online, and the proceeds will go to ECAC Coaches vs. Cancer.

The Raiders will look to improve upon all of the stats accumulated over the weekend with games at No. 17 Princeton and No. 16 Quinnipiac this weekend. Colgate visits Hobey Baker Rink to face the Tigers on Friday at 7 p.m., before heading to the TD Banknorth Sports Center for a Sunday afternoon game against the Bobcats that will be televised live on NESN beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Lastly, it should be noted that should Dekanich blank Princeton, he will etch his name into second-place on the NCAA scoreless streak record books. However, like he confidently says, the only number that matters during this crucial ECAC stretch is the number of wins.

Special thanks to Michele Kelley for providing some statistics.