The atmosphere at Starr Rink last Thursday resembled that of a March madness college basketball game. The crowd was loud and relentless, feeding off the pure emotion and adrenaline on the ice. Luckily, the home-and-home series did not disappoint.
“Because we don’t usually have a big crowd, it is extra special to have so many of our peers cheering us on at such an important stage of the season,” Assistant Captain and junior Jesse Winchester said.
In arguably the biggest sporting event for Colgate students every year, the men’s hockey team made its fans proud by taking down its biggest rival and 18th ranked Cornell, 4-2 in the first game of the traditional home-and-home series.
While the statistics from the game may have leaned towards Cornell, who out-shot Colgate 41-14 and beat them 43-32 in face-offs, the Raiders’ determination and heart refused to let them go down in the team’s biggest win of the season. Junior goalie Mark Dekanich was once again a brick wall in net, stopping 39 Big Red shots. Colgate came out of the gate on fire, jumping out to an early 1-0 lead after Winchester found classmate Tyler Burton, whose snapshot went past junior Cornell goalie Troy Davenport on a power play 3:09 into the game. The Raiders didn’t stop there, striking again on the man advantage 9:41 into the first period when sophomore Jason Fredricks found first-year David McIntyre in front of the net, who then slotted the puck just underneath the crossbar to give the Raiders the 2-0 lead.
At this juncture, Cornell pulled Davenport and put first-year Ben Scrivens in at goalie. Cornell was now angry and seemed to be out for blood from that point on. With just 20 seconds left in the second period, Cornell finally found the back of the net after furiously attacking Colgate as first-year Tony Ramano assisted on junior Doug Krantz’s goal that found its way over Dekanich’s shoulder. Then, just 4:33 into the third period, Cornell senior Mark McCutcheon found the back of the net, tying the game and quieting Colgate’s crowd. Sensing that the game was slipping away, Colgate found a way to regain its spark, and would not let Cornell spoil its big game. Midway through the third period, sophomore Nick St. Pierre attempted a shot that was saved, but senior Marc Fulton took the puck and smashed it over Scrivens.
“Scoring the game winner was awesome,” Fulton said. “I don’t think I can remember a time when the crowd was louder. It was such a great feeling.”
Winchester added an empty net goal to seal the huge victory for the Raiders.
“Shutting down the power plays was a big part of our victory on Thursday, Dekanich said “I think that the penalty kill played Cornell really tough and did a phenomenal job.
In the second game of the series at Cornell last Saturday, Colgate wasn’t so fortunate, as the Big Red managed a 2-1 victory. Cornell knew what they were in for this time, but the Raiders weren’t fazed by the raucous crowd that Winchester described as a “sea of red” and “one of the best atmospheres for any college hockey game.” Once again, the Raiders jumped out on top as Burton capitalized on a rebound off of a Winchester shot and beat Scrivens to take a 1-0 lead 4:46 into the middle period. Yet just six minutes later, Cornell senior Mitch Carefoot took care of a rebound and beat Dekanich, who registered an exceptional 34 saves, to tie up the game. Then, with 6:22 left in the game, Cornell first-year Justin Milo found the puck in the middle of a scrum outside the crease and beat Dekanich (who was named ECAC Goalie of the Week for the second straight time) for the game winner. Colgate could not capitalize on a five minute power play that closed the game, as Cornell held strong in the closing minutes.
Nonetheless, it was a successful week for the Raiders, who got their biggest win of the season. The Raiders can play with top competition and gained confidence that should carry them through the rest of the season.
“Obviously beating Cornell was huge for us, especially for my class who hadn’t beaten them yet,” Dekanich said via e-mail. “Saturday’s loss was tough but we played well and that is big step in the right direction and it will definitely help us out down the road – knowing we can beat and compete with any team in the league.”