Men’s Hockey Ties Yale, Defeats Princeton

Alex Clark

When do you know you have a good hockey team? When getting three out of four points on the road is considered a bit disappointing. With a scoreless tie against Yale last Friday and a win over Princeton the following night, Colgate now sits in second place in the ECACHL, just one point ahead of Harvard. The Raiders had a wonderful opportunity to break a dubious three-game winless streak with a road trip to face the league’s two worst teams, Yale and Princeton. After out-shooting the Bulldogs 11-1 in the first period in New Haven, it appeared that Colgate was right on track for a weekend sweep. Unfortunately, none of the 11 shots found the back of the net, and time began ticking away faster and faster until the final horn sounded. “We had a great first period,” head coach Don Vaughan said. “It didn’t bounce for us. I know we get tired of hearing that, but it is part of the game. We hit two crossbars and two goalposts in that game. The way that game went, we only would have needed one goal.”Colgate went scoreless for the second time in three games, topping off an abysmal four-game stretch in which the team collected only two points and three goals. “Over the long haul you’re going to get some bounces, and you’ll hear a lot of guys say that they’ll even out over the course of a season,” Vaughan said on his team’s recent lack of offense. “But I do think you have to work hard to be lucky. The challenge is to not put too much emphasis on it, because then guys tend to really press. They pass when they should shoot or shoot when they should pass. They overthink the game. We’ve got to get back to throwing the puck at the net.”Fortunately, senior goalie Steve Silverthorn also managed to blank Yale, collecting his third shutout of the season and sixth of his career, tying a Colgate record. Silverthorn is on the brink of topping many Colgate career records. His 2.24 goals against average is currently smashing the former record of 2.83 held by Shep Harder ’00. He boasts a .913 save percentage, second only to the .917 career percentage posted by Kurt Brown ’64 between 1962-64. With a 3-1 victory over Princeton on Saturday, Silverthorn also collected his 50th career victory, just five off of the mark set by Dan Brenzavich ’98. Colgate’s goalie nearly had his record-breaking seventh shutout that night as well, but the Tigers scored with less than two minutes remaining to put that achievement off for another night. “I thought we did a great job of containing them and not giving them a lot of opportunities,” Vaughan said. “They scored late on the power-play when we just got caught with a group on the ice that couldn’t get off. Otherwise, [Silverthorn] gets back-to-back shutouts.”Silverthorn still posted an impressive weekend overall, allowing only one goal on 43 shots faced and earning ECACHL Goaltender of the Week honors.Colgate managed to break out of their scoring funk as well. Senior Tony Masotto scored just two minutes into the game with a hard slapshot, causing a sigh of relief to pass through the frustrated Raider bench. Junior Jon Smyth and senior Darryl McKinnon notched goals of their own just 1:12 apart in the second period to spot Colgate a 3-0 edge. Princeton’s lone goal came much too late, and Colgate finished the weekend with a victory.Colgate’s three-point weekend appears more impressive when one hears of the injuries that plagued the team. Junior Kyle Wilson and first-year Ben Camper were out with broken bones. Senior Eamon Del Giacco sat with an injured shoulder. Junior Ryan Smyth and sophomore Marc Fulton stayed at home for Friday night’s game with the flu, and while Ryan Smyth returned on Saturday, he and many other Raider skaters were forced to play through illness. These injuries limited the club and put pressure on inexperienced players.”We were short staffed,” Vaughan explained. “Guys like [first-year] Mike Werner and [sophomore] Alex Grieg stepped in and did a nice job. We have depth and guys are expected to step up and play.”Fortunately, Colgate expects to get Wilson back this weekend when it faces off against Union and Rensselaer at 7:00 p.m. tonight and tomorrow night at Starr Rink. And many who suffered from the flu bug have since recovered, leaving Colgate in good position to potentially claim an automatic first round bye for the ECACHL playoffs. Reaching one of the top four league spots has been a goal for the Raiders throughout the season, and Vaughan believes the bye week would be extremely helpful for his tiring club.”There are some coaches in this league who would prefer not to have the bye week,” he said. “But for a team like ours where we’ve used a handful of guys a lot, I think the rest will really help a lot.”A sweep this weekend virtually guarantees Colgate of a top four spot with one week of action remaining.