Raiders Road Trip Has Rough Ending

After placing its four-game winning streak on the line last weekend, the Raider men’s hockey team learned that there is still plenty of room for improvement. On Friday night, Colgate narrowly escaped with a win over then-winless Dartmouth, but was upended by 17th-ranked Harvard the following day, 6-4.

Against Dartmouth, sophomore goaltender Mark Dekanich kept the Raiders in the game during the waning minutes of the third period. By making 17 saves to preserve a 3-2 victory. Colgate retained a 2-0 lead well into the second period thanks to goals by sophomores Jesse Winchester and Tyler Burton. Winchester notched his sixth score of the season when he followed up and put home a rebound off junior assistant captain Liam Huculak’s breakaway opportunity. Meanwhile, Burton tallied his sixth goal of the year on a mini-breakaway of his own. The continued his dominant play since receiving a commendation as the ECACHL’s Player of the Week last week.

Late in the second period, Dartmouth converted on a power play opportunity, just as the first of two Colgate defenders returned from the penalty box. Subsequently, senior assistant captain Kyle Wilson extended his career-long point-scoring streak to 10 games with his ninth goal of the season and his team-leading seventh on the power play.

With Wilson’s score, Colgate regained its two-goal lead, but it was short-lived. J.T. Wyman of the Big Green cut the lead back to one midway through the third period. However, Dartmouth got no closer thanks to Dekanich, who took matters into his own hands from there on. By the end of the game, the sophomore goalie had accumulated a career-high 42 saves. With the help of the hard-working Raider defense, the young netminder was able to hold on to the lead for Colgate until the final horn.

In game two of the weekend, Colgate scored three consecutive goals in the final period, but the offensive barrage came too late. The loss snapped the Raiders’ five-game winning streak, and was also their first conference blemish of the year. After a marvelous performance Friday night, Dekanich was gashed by Harvard, who was able to beat him four times Saturday night. As a result, head coach Don Vaughan pulled Dekanich halfway through the second period.

“He wasn’t feeling very well since the weekend started,” Vaughan said. “I know he won’t let this be an excuse for his performance on Saturday, but he didn’t practice earlier in the week due to upper respiratory problems, symptoms of which bothered him throughout the weekend.”

After the Crimson’s sixth goal, the Raiders rallied back with three consecutive power play tallies, all scored in a span of three minutes. Winchester cut the score to 6-2, followed by two one-timer goals by junior Marc Fulton and Wilson, who capitalized on a two-man advantage. The offensive surge was not enough to come back from the five-goal deficit, however, as the Crimson took the game, 6-4. Dekanich finished the game with 21 saves, while his successor, sophomore Justin Kowalkoski, stopped 11 of 13 shots.

“The biggest difference between the two games,” Vaughan explained, “was the lack of execution on the penalty kills on Saturday. We didn’t take away the passing and shooting lanes as well, and we had a couple of breakdowns that ended up making the difference in the game.”

Vaughan said that his team would work on its special teams in practice this week to get geared up for its homestand against Rensselaer and Union this weekend.

“Especially with how the games are being called by the referees, special teams are extremely important,” Vaughan said. “We also need to be mindful of the pulse of the team in terms of fatigue level.”

Vaughan stated that the team would schedule hard, but shorter practices this week in anticipation of the weekend games.

After a successful 3-1 early road swing, the Raiders return home for a six-game homestand at Starr Rink. Their first game is tonight, when the Raiders host Rensselaer at 7:00 p.m. The Silver Puck Weekend celebration continues on Saturday when Colgate takes on Union at a special time of 4:00 p.m.