After the first two games of the ECACHL schedule, the Raider men’s hockey team has the look of a potential championship team and the mentality of true hockey players. Last weekend, Colgate completed a sweep on the road by defeating conference foes Brown, 5-0, and Yale, 6-2.
In game one of the weekend against Brown, the Raiders received great play from a few sophomores. In particular, goaltender Mark Dekanich made 26 saves to earn his first career shutout, and centers Tyler Burton and Jesse Winchester gave him plenty of support by combining for three goals.
Colgate took the lead halfway through the first period as Winchester passed the puck to Burton from the right face-off circle. Burton one-timed a shot on goal, the rebound of which senior co-captain Jon Smyth picked up and slipped past Brown goaltender Adam D’Alba on the glove side.
With a lead in hand, the Raiders carried over that momentum from the first period into the second stanza. When first-year left-winger Nick St. Pierre took a pass from sophomore Ben Camper and fired a shot on goal, Burton tipped the puck into the net with his skate to get credit for his fourth goal of the season.
Midway through the second period, Colgate earned a five-on-three power-play opportunity and took advantage of it. Junior Mike Campaner held the puck behind Brown’s net until he passed it to junior Marc Fulton in the left face-off circle. Fulton let go of a quick pass to senior assistant captain Kyle Wilson, who scored his seventh goal of the year.
The Raiders continued with a one-man advantage and made the most of it again when Winchester scored his first goal of the game from a pass by Smyth.
The Raiders tallied their fifth goal late in the third period when Winchester scored off a rebound, his fourth of the year.
After his team’s great all-around performance, Smyth believes the Raiders will be able to compete among the elite of the ECACHL.
“It’s a great way to get the season going, but the Ivy League teams haven’t been playing all that long, so this weekend may not be an indication of how well they play in the future,” Smyth said. “It gets you thinking, though, that Cornell only beat Yale, 4-2, because of an empty net goal and if Yale had not hit the post to tie the game at three, there could have been a completely different result.We stand a good chance this year.”
In New Haven, the Raiders completed their weekend sweep by defeating Yale. Dekanich earned his second straight league win and fourth overall as he compiled 24 saves, giving him 50 stops during the weekend.
Colgate struck first in the opening period, when Burton picked up his fifth score of the season after burying a pass from Campaner.
With five minutes left in the first period, Colgate’s black line registered its first goal of the season. Junior Liam Huculak got the puck from senior Zac Tataryn and skated into the zone along the far boards. He dropped it off for Camper just over the blue line, and Camper scored top-shelf on Yale goalie Mike Modelski.
The Raiders made it 3-0 with their fifth power-play goal of the weekend in the waning minutes of the first when Wilson notched his fifth power-play goal and extended his career-long point streak to nine games off senior Ryan Smyth’s rebound.
Smyth then added a goal to his assist early in the second period to give Colgate a 4-0 advantage, as the Raiders crashed the net on a power-play opportunity. The puck squirted loose to Smyth, who then backhanded it home. Over the weekend, the Raiders scored six power-play goals, giving the team a conversion rate just under 28 percent with the man advantage – placing Colgate second in the nation behind only Michigan.
Dekanich’s shutout streak came to an end thanks to a goal by Yale’s Nate Jackson with just under six minutes left in the second period. Regardless, it would not be enough for Yale to mount a significant comeback. Dekanich subsequently denied all of Yale’s shots, and the Raiders continued to give him more of a cushion.
For their terrific play last weekend, Dekanich and Burton were awarded the conference’s Goaltender of the Week and Player of the Week honors, respectively.
After their weekend bout against Bentley, Raider head coach Don Vaughan said that his team was not ready for league play. However, two decisive victories over the weekend may have changed his mind.
“We had great practices leading up to this weekend; the captains did a good job of getting the younger guys prepared,” Vaughan said. “5-0 might suggest that we dominated that game, but in the beginning [Dekanich] had to come up with some big saves. You don’t have to make all the saves, just the big ones. This is a game of momentum, and Mark plays a big part in that. It was a good start to league play. But it’s important to realize that it’s early – there’s still a lot of hockey left to play.”
Colgate is back on the road this weekend, traveling to ECACHL foes Dartmouth and Harvard. The Raiders will take on the Big Green tonight and will face the 15th-ranked Crimson tomorrow.