Facing off against the 7-8-1 Niagara University Purple Eagles for two games, the first on December 7 and the second on December 8, the then 3-8-2 Colgate Men’s Ice Hockey team split the weekend series.
The first game against the Purple Eagles opened as a defensive stalemate. During the final minute of the first period, with less than forty seconds left on the clock, Niagara opened the scoring. The Raiders rebounded with a strong second period, with junior forward Tyler Penner scoring off an assist by freshman forward Griffin Lunn in the 2:41 minute to tie up the game. The Raiders kept the momentum going and promptly took the lead after another even-strength (non-power-play) goal, this time from junior defenseman Jacob Panetta, off of assists from junior forwards John Snodgrass and Bobby McMann. The Purple Eagles once again scored late into the period, this time in the 18:07 minute, off a power play to end the second period all tied up at two goals apiece.
After the game, Head Coach Don Vaughan emphasized the impact that late-period goals have on the outcome of games and the way Colgate can ideally bounce back from them.
“We’ve given away too many late-period goals like that, so it’s familiar to us unfortunately. But I think we came back and we played hard, so it’s not about our work ethic. Sometimes it’s about our decisions—we’re competing hard, but not making the best decisions all the time. We need to keep plugging, because our effort was great, [so we] just need to get a couple of bounces and get something positive,” Vaughan said.
Unfortunately, the even score did not last long into the third period, as, not even three minutes into the frame, Niagara’s Reed Robinson sent in a shot that gave the hosts a pivotal 3-2 edge. The Purple Eagles scored once more in the third period, another even-strength goal, to win the game 4-2. Vaughan commented on some ways the Raiders can improve following the defeat.
“We did a lot of good things early but if you don’t capitalize on those chances, a lot of nights it comes back to haunt you and that’s what I thought happened tonight. We had some great scoring opportunities, and I thought their goaltender played very well tonight. We had enough good looks to probably be up by a couple, but to start the third down by one, the guys try to do too much. You get away from your structure, your game, and that’s what happened,” he said.
Luckily for the Raiders, the next day offered a promising opportunity to implement Vaughn’s recommendations. The Raiders once again played the Purple Eagles. This time, the result was a 2-0 victory for the the maroon and white.
“I’m really proud of our guys and thought the effort was exceptional tonight. Over two games, we fired 80 shots on goal and if you average 40 shots on goal a night, you’re going to win a lot of games. Obviously scoring has been challenging, but I thought we played almost a perfect game defensively and [freshman goaltender] Andrew Farrier came up big when we needed him to. Special teams play was really important too,” Vaughan said.
Although it was not as much of a rollercoaster contest, the Raiders were able to demonstrate confident, solid offense. Freshman forward Jeff Stewart opened the scoring in the 15:06 minute in the second period on an even strength goal off of assists by junior forward Ben Sharf and sophomore forward Josh McKechney. McMann continued the scoring for the Raiders on the 0:36 second of the third period off a power play and assists by sophomore defensemen Nick Austin and Trevor Cosgrove. Farrier made 17 saves on the night to keep a shutout.
Looking ahead, the Men’s ice Hockey team will go on a break for a couple weeks, and return to Hamilton to face the
No.5-ranked Quinnipiac Bobcats on Saturday, December 29 at 5 p.m.
Contact Ignacio Villar at [email protected]