ECACHL Title Still Up for Grabs

Too bad Senior Night couldn’t have been on Friday evening.

After a big 4-1 win against 18th-ranked Harvard on Friday night, the Raiders experienced a major let down the next night against Dartmouth, falling 3-0 to the Big Green on Senior Night.

The final home weekend of the regular season began very well for the Raiders, as the team came out strong in the opening period against the Crimson. Less than five minutes into the opening period, sophomore center Tyler Burton received a pass from senior assistant captain Kyle Wilson and roofed the puck over Harvard goaltender John Daigneau. The goal, Burton’s 20th marker of the season, came with the Raiders’ retooled power-play unit on the ice.

“It was a couple of changes, but nothing too drastic,” assistant coach Andrew Dickson said. “We just tried to get the guys a different look by trying a different concept.”

Harvard responded with a power-play goal of its goal only 3:28 later, as a deflected shot eluded sophomore goaltender Mark Dekanich. With the period winding down, however, Colgate received a huge momentum boost heading into the first intermission.

In the final minute of the period, Colgate had a face-off in the Crimson zone after a Harvard icing call. After a key face-off win by Wilson, first-year Nick St. Pierre fired a shot on goal that was tipped in by sophomore Marc Fulton. The goal, Fulton’s 10th tally of the season, gave the Raiders a much-needed boost headed into the break.

“When you score in either the first two minutes or the last two minutes of a period, it is key,” Dickson said. “[During that time], you always want to keep everything good. It was a real bonus for us.”

After a scoreless second period, the Raiders struck twice in the final stanza to put away the visitors. First, senior Zac Tataryn scored his first goal of the season at the 2:27 mark of the third period to give the Raiders a two-goal edge. The new and improved Raider power play struck again later in the period, as sophomore Jesse Winchester tipped in a Wilson shot to ice the game.

Wilson was the star of the game for the Raiders, despite not scoring a goal. The London, Ontario native registered an assist on all four Raider goals, The four helpers allowed Wilson to surpass Burton for the team lead in points, and showcased the many ways that Wilson can help the Raiders.

“Kyle was by far the best player on the ice,” Dickson said. “He always leads by example, not only in points but on nights he doesn’t get on the scoreboard.”

The following night against Dartmouth, the Raiders needed a lot of help. In front of a Senior Night crowd of nearly 2,000, the Raiders were shutout for the first time at home in over a year, missing an opportunity to clinch a first-round bye in the ECACHL playoffs in the 3-0 loss.

The Big Green struck first and never looked back. At the 11:32 mark of the opening period, Dartmouth’s Nick Johnson pounded on a rebound and fired a shot past Dekanich, giving the visitors a lead that they would never relinquish. Dartmouth added single goals in the second and third periods as well to send the Raider seniors to a loss in their last regular season gave at Starr Rink.

For Colgate, one of the culprits was the team’s power play unit. The Raider power play, which capitalized on two-of-five chances the previous night, could not find the net in any of six man-advantage situations against the Big Green. Dickson did not attribute this to the reshuffling of the power play, although he admitted that the team is always working on ways to perfect itself.

“If something is working real well, then you don’t fool with it,” Dickson said. “But we are always trying new ideas and tweaking lines, especially if we’re forced to due to injuries.”

After missing its first opportunity to clinch a first round bye in the ECACHL playoffs, Colgate will try again in the final weekend of the regular season. The Raiders have two tough games left, as the team faces off with sixth-place Union tonight and eighth-place Rensselaer tomorrow night. With one win this weekend, the Raiders would get a well-deserved week off in preparation for the ECACHL Quarterfinals, which are set to begin on March 10th at campus sites. For Dickson and the Raiders, that extra week off is of great importance.

“It’s been a goal of ours from day one, although we’re still looking for the league title,” Dickson said. “Rest is really key for any team, and a week off would really serve us well.”