Men’s Hockey Splits Home Games

Alex Clark

By splitting its weekend matchups against weaker opponents, the Raider men’s hockey team stumbles into its first league games, coming up tonight and tomorrow afternoon.Colgate, on the brink of being ranked amongst the top 15 teams in college hockey, faced off against Sacred Heart and Army last weekend. Despite facing opponents from the young Atlantic Hockey conference, however, the Raiders picked up only one victory, knocking off the Pioneers, 5-1, on Friday but losing to the Black Knights, 3-2, the following evening. To make matters worse, Army’s victory was its first in 14 tries at Starr Rink and its first win against Colgate since 1987.”Obviously the Saturday night game was a disappointment,” head coach Don Vaughan said. “It was a team that we feel we should have beaten. But I have to give a lot of credit to Army. They came in here and did exactly what they needed to do. Their goaltender played well, especially early in the game, and they caught us napping on a couple of plays.”The weekend began on a high note, as the Raiders charged past Sacred Heart. Sophomore defenseman and Colgate points leader Mike Campaner notched the first tally with a long snap shot from the high slot. Senior tri-captain Darryl McKinnon added another first period goal by tapping a loose puck behind scrambling Pioneer goalie Jason Smith and into the net. Both goals came on the power play, which clicked on three of 11 chances.”Friday night we thought we did what we needed to do,” Vaughan said. “We got some good special teams play and that’s been a lot of the game so far.”Sophomore Marc Fulton contributed the third power play goal early in the second period. All four of his notches this season have come with the man advantage. Senior Joey Mormina and junior Zac Tataryn each scored as well in the Colgate victory. Steve Silverthorn, the senior Raider netminder, turned aside 23 of 24 shots faced to earn his fifth victory on the season.Colgate jumped all over Army the following night as well, generating tons of opportunities both on the power play and at even strength. But the home team scored only once on eight chances with the man advantage, and, despite out-shooting the Black Knights, 31-13, lost the game, 3-2.”It was a valuable lesson for us,” Vaughan said. “We need to stay focused for 60 minutes. You can’t let your guard down for one minute. We played relatively well. We controlled the game for many parts of the night, but ultimately we had major breakdowns on three plays and they capitalized.”Vaughan tried first-year backup goaltender Mark Dekanich between the pipes on Saturday, giving the North Vancouver, B.C. native his first look at collegiate action. Dekanich faced only two shots in the first 20 minutes, however, leaving him cold as the game wore on.”I thought he played well,” Vaughan said. “The tough part for any goaltender, when you’re not getting any action in front of your net – and he certainly wasn’t getting much in the first period – is that you have a tendency to get cold. Any goaltender will tell you that they’re better when they face more shots. He just didn’t seem to get a rhythm.”Although both Fulton and senior tri-captain Adam Mitchell gave Colgate leads in the first and second periods, the Raiders failed to hold on to the 2-1 advantage that they brought into the final frame. While Army celebrated its momentous and streak-breaking victory, Colgate fans began to fear their team’s preparedness for this weekend’s league games against Brown and Harvard.”In these games this weekend, the intensity will rise, there’s more on the line and you just expect that the games will be a little bit tougher,” Vaughan explained. “So more than ever we need to make sure we execute and pay attention to detail.”While the pair of games mark Colgate’s first look at ECAC opponents, it also marks Silver Puck weekend, a chance for the team to honor its booster club composed of students, fans and alumni. This year, Colgate celebrates its 75th year of hockey, dating back to its inaugural team back in 1915. “It’s a great milestone,” Vaughan said. “It’s all about tradition, and we’re hoping to capture some of that feeling for our players. Hopefully we’ll get a number of our alumni back this year to help us celebrate.”Because of a special ceremony to take place after the Saturday contest against Harvard, the game will be held at the special time of 4 p.m. Friday night’s game against Brown begins at its normal time of 7 p.m.