It was a tale of two games for the Raiders when they squared off against Yale and Brown last week at Starr Rink. In Friday’s contest against Yale, Colgate suffered a crushing 6-1 defeat. However, the Raiders rebounded quickly the next night and waxed the Brown Bears, 5-0 in the team’s most complete win of the season.
The Yale game was closer than the score indicated, especially in the early periods. Colgate actually dominated the first period of play, outshooting Yale, 15-4, and created many goal-scoring opportunities. Unfortunately, the scoreboard read double zeros heading into the first intermission.
“It was probably our best first period of the season,” Head Coach Don Vaughan said. “We had some great chances.”
Yale turned the tide in the second period, taking advantage of some Raider errors. After Yale killed a five-on-three Colgate power play, Bulldog forward Sean Backman started the offensive onslaught when the Colgate defense failed to clear the puck. Backman took control and fired a point-blank shot past senior Colgate goaltender Mark Dekanich to give Yale a lead that it would never relinquish.
“When they killed our power play in the second period and scored right after, it really changed the momentum,” Vaughan said. “Our guys never recovered. To put so much into the first period and find ourselves down 1-0 so fast was hard mentally.”
The Bulldogs would score twice in the final seven minutes of the second period to break the game wide open, 3-0. Three more Bulldog goals put Yale up, 6-0. Yale goaltender Billy Blase played as well as any opposing goaltender had played all season against the Raiders, notching 32 saves. Yale’s spectacular penalty kill was also on point, denying the Raiders on all four of its extra-man opportunities. Colgate’s lone goal of the game came in the third period, as junior David Sloane netted his second of the season with a powerful shot from the outside.
With such a short turnaround however, the Raiders had little time to regroup, as the Brown Bears came into town. Although Brown had won only one game coming into its Saturday night contest, the victory was a 5-2 win against these Raiders earlier in the season back in Providence. Fortunately, a quick Colgate goal set the tone in this game.
“The guys are used to having to respond quickly,” Vaughan said. “Last weekend, it was very important for us to get going early in our second game. The first goal against Brown really eased the tension and allowed our guys to relax.”
That first goal came courtesy of junior Mark Anderson, who netted a rebound after a shot by first-year Francois Brisebois. Sophomore Jason Williams also scored in the first period, putting the Raiders up by two goals and allowing them to cruise to their 10th victory of the season. Sophomore David McIntyre helped put Brown away with two goals and an assist, as did senior captain Jesse Winchester, who scored a power play goal in the second period. Undoubtedly, Dekanich turned in the best performance of the day. He accrued 18 saves and posted his eighth career shutout, tying Steve Silverthorn ’05 for the school’s career shutout record. With his 18 saves, Dekanich also moved into second place on Colgate’s all-time career saves list with 2,608 stops, passing Dan Brenzavich.
“He’s one of the best goaltenders in the country, and he’s proven that time and time again,” Vaughan said. “Even he will tell you that tying the record is great. But what he wants the most is to win a championship with this team, and that’s the goal.”
With the win over Brown, the Raiders improved to 10-10-4 on the season and 4-5-3 in the ECAC, which is good enough for eighth place in the conference. Colgate is also 3-1-1 in its last five games.
Next weekend, the Raiders play rival Cornell in the annual home-and-home series, which has the capability of putting the Raiders’ season on the right track.
“We have to continue to stick to the process,” Vaughan said. “The kids have bought into our program and we have to stick with it. There is so much parity in our league, from top to bottom, that we have to realize that every game is going to be a battle. We can’t afford to take a single shift off.”
Colgate’s home game against Cornell will take place on Saturday at 7 p.m., and tickets will be distributed to students starting at 5:30 p.m. at Starr Rink.