As a result of its weekend sweep over Union and RPI and a Cornell loss at Union, the Colgate men’s ice hockey team captured a share of the ECACHL crown with the Dartmouth Big Green, the team’s second regular-season championship in the last three years and its third overall.
“This weekend was really exciting for us and the program as well,” senior captain Jon Smyth said. “Shared or non-shared, regular season titles are few and far between, so for us to accomplish that twice in a span of three years is pretty awesome.”
On Friday night against Union, Colgate scored two goals within two minutes at the midway point of the second period. Smyth led off the scoring with his ninth tally of the year, and junior Marc Fulton followed with a goal that expanded the lead to two and put the game away.
The following day, Smyth responded to an early second period deficit by scoring his 10th goal of the season to tie the game against RPI.
“Personally, it was nice to find the back of the net again,” Smyth said. “I’m obviously not scoring the amount of goals I have in other years at this point, but I have definitely taken pride in doing what I can to at least make them important goals. This weekend’s goals came as a result of a couple of nice passes.”
Sophomore Jesse Winchester gave Colgate the lead with his 13th of the season six minutes into the third, after which point sophomore starting goaltender Mark Dekanich shut the door.
“It was great to put together a two-win weekend on the road, especially against a couple of teams that were just as hungry for points as we were,” Smyth said. “I wouldn’t say we played amazing on the weekend, but we really hung in there and did what we had to do to win. We did a really good job of keeping most of their shots to the outside.”
Dekanich came through in net for the Raiders, making 29 saves against Union and 35 saves against RPI. Despite the fact that his team was out-shot 36-18, including 19-2 in the second period alone, on Saturday night, Dekanich kept the Raiders ahead of the Engineers. On Monday, Dekanich was honored as the ECAC Hockey League Goaltender of the Week for the third time this season.
“Like I always say,” Dekanich said, “I just focus on the puck and do my job, which is to keep the puck out of our net.”
For the Raiders, one of their season-long goals was to get a top-four seed in the ECACHL, which gives the team a first-round bye in the upcoming conference tournament. For the Raiders, a week off from competition will be a huge boost in preparation for some intense playoff hockey.
“The idle weekend off is huge for us to get a much needed rest,” Dekanich said. “Moreover, we are all very excited about our playoff series and can’t wait to get back out on the ice. This week we will have light practices scattered throughout, but next week we will buckle down and get back to work. We know that every playoff game is tighter checking and closer than regular season, but at the same time we are confident in our ability.”
Tickets are on sale now for the Colgate men’s hockey team’s ECACHL quarterfinal series, which will take place March 10-12 at Starr Rink. The Raiders will host a to-be-determined winner from the first round in a best-of-three series. College students may purchase tickets for $6; however, the first 500 Colgate students at each game will receive free admission with a valid Colgate ID courtesy of University President Rebecca Chopp and the Colgate Athletic Council.