Offense in Top Form, But Defense Lacking for Hockey

Ruben Leavitt

The Raiders played a rough two-game series last week, suffering a 5-2 loss to Brown and a 6-4 loss against Yale. In both games, they hit several posts and were unable to capitalize on several good scoring opportunities.

“We are working very hard, but we are also getting frustrated,” Head Coach Don Vaughan said. He also feels that the puck has not been bouncing in the Raiders’ favor, and to make matters worse, “every mistake we make ends up in the back of our net.”

Last Friday against Brown, each team held the lead at some point during the game. Midway through the first, sophomore forward David McIntyre capitalized on a terrific effort by senior captain and forward Jesse Winchester to keep the puck in the offensive zone in order to get a shot on net. McIntyre, standing in front of the net, picked up the puck and buried it top shelf for his second goal of the season.

The Bears tied the score several minutes later when Paul Baier scored an even strength goal. Early in the second period, Brown’s Devin Timberlake struck with a power play goal in the second period to give the Bears a 2-1 lead. Midway through the second period, junior forward Peter Bogdanich, who made his first appearance in the line-up this season on Friday night, tallied his first goal of the season to level the score at two. Both teams went into the second intermission tied at two. Eight minutes into the third period, Brown’s Aaron Volpatti scored to put Brown up by one. Teammate Sean Munch netted an even strength goal at the 13:45 mark, and Brown’s Ryan Garbutt found the empty net to seal the scoring with 22 seconds left. Colgate’s senior goalie Justin Kowalkoski completed his first start of the season with 37 saves. The shot differential tells the story of this game, as Colgate was outshot 17-7 in the third period and 42-31 overall.

Last Sunday’s game against Yale was televised on ESPNU, and the fans were treated to an offensive showdown between the Bulldogs and Raiders. Both teams grinded out a back-and-forth battle, and the result wasn’t decided until the waning minutes of the game. For the second consecutive contest, the Raiders took the first lead. First-year sensation Brian Day started the scoring for the Raiders, tipping in junior David Sloane’s slap shot for his sixth goal of the season at 7:49. Four minutes later, senior Ben Camper won the face-off and followed up a rebound by diving toward the net to poke home his second goal of the season to put Colgate up 2-0. Yale eventually got on the board at 15:21 when Sean Backman snuck one past senior goalie Mark Dekanich. Colgate would enter the first intermission with a one-goal advantage.

Colgate could not rest in the second period, as Ryan Donald scored on a four-on-four situation just seven seconds into the second period to tie the game. Yale then took advantage of the open ice yet again during the four-on-four play, as Mark Arcobello put the pick in the net at 1:12. Six minutes later, Winchester scored his third goal of the season to even the score at three, but Arcobello scored his second goal of the game to give Yale a 4-3 lead with ust over one minute remaining. Yale held its one-goal lead until the end of the second period.

After the five-minute mark of the third period, forward Brian Day, while trying to defend the Raider net, knocked over senior starting goaltender Mark Dekanich. The goalie was taken to the bench by the Colgate athletic trainer and was replaced in net by Kowalkoski for the remainder of the game.

“My condition at the time did not allow me to play in the rest of the game,” Dekanich said. “I was quite stunned and not in a state to play at the level I needed.”

Dekanich also mentioned that he suffered a “slight head injury,” though he could not remember how it happened. Thankfully, both Dekanich and Vaughan said that the goaltender is healthy and will be in the lineup next weekend.

The Raiders tied the score at 9:53 off another goal by Day, his seventh of the season. However, Yale’s Tom Dignard helped the Bulldogs regain the lead three minutes later on a power play. Bulldog Brendan Mason added an insurance goal with 2:35 left to play on a delayed penalty. Like Friday night’s game, Colgate earned a late power play with under a minute left in the third period. The advantage eventually turned into a six-on-three affair when Kowalkoski headed to the bench for an extra attacker. But the Raiders were unable to capitalize, so the score remained 6-4 at the end of regulation. Dekanich left the game after making 20 saves while Kowalkoski recorded two stops in relief.

The Raiders were 0-for-6 on the power play in the game against Brown and 0-for-4 against Yale.

“Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do.” Vaughan said. “The puck didn’t bounce for us this weekend. We just have to remember that there’s still a lot of hockey left.”

The Raiders now sit in last place in the ECACHL. When asked how the team can get out of this rut, Vaughan responded in a positive fashion.

“By believing in the system and the process, buying into it and focusing on it,” Vaughan said. “By doing the day-to-day work we’ll get out of this funk.” He also went on to say that the pressure to win “comes most from within each of us more than from outside sources. We’re all competitive guys.”

Colgate is back on the road next weekend for games at Dartmouth and Harvard.