Men’s Ice Hockey Building Unity and Momentum

Colgate Men’s Ice Hockey is finding their groove in the second half of their season after winning three out of their past five games, now holding a 5-6-4 record. In the past week, the Raiders have faced the Clarkson Golden Knights twice, coming out with a 2-0 victory against Clarkson in Thursday’s matchup. Sophomore forward Ethan Manderville was the first to put the Raiders on the scoreboard, followed by senior forward and captain Josh McKechney who contributed a goal and an outstanding blocked shot on the defensive end. Colgate’s triumphant win could not have been accomplished without first-year goaltender Carter Gylander’s relentless shutout performance. Unfortunately, Saturday’s game did not have the ending the Raiders had hoped for, finishing in a 1-1 tie. The lone Raider goal came from sophomore forward Arnoud Vachon’s on a breakaway, which was aided by significant defensive help from senior defenseman and captain Trevor Cosgrove.

It has taken Colgate’s Men’s Ice Hockey a few games to get adjusted to playing as one cohesive unit with all the changes due to the ongoing pandemic and beginning their 2020-2021 season with a fairly young team. 

“The start of the year was weird for sure, trying to adjust to different times. Class schedules are all over the place this year so we’re having to find unique times to skate together,” senior forward and captain Paul McAvoy said. “I think we’ve just really figured out the last couple weeks how to really compete and keep our energy up the entire 60 minutes.”

Senior forward and captain Josh McKechney said it has undoubtedly taken some time for the Raiders to find their “mojo.” He voiced that all the upperclassmen are doing their part to get the lower classmen acclimated to playing college hockey and balancing it with their rigorous academic schedules.

“I think all the returning guys have done a pretty good job of grouping everyone together in such a short span of time. We’re such a young team, [and] college is a lot different than junior where guys played in the past,” McKechney said. “Our freshmen group is great. They’re all such great guys and easy to get along with. We just bonded and meshed well with personalities and everything. Having a young team is kind of cool because you get to bond together, grow together and create that chemistry — and you have that for longer durations.”

Many of the younger players are making notable impacts on the Raiders’ success this season. First-year forward Alex Young was one out of 50 players in the nation to recently be nominated for the Hobey Baker Award. This award is given every year to the best National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s ice hockey player in the nation.

“It’s definitely a huge honor and it’s early on in the season, but it’s boosted my confidence a lot because a lot of the best NHL players have gotten that award,” Young said. “One of the things I wanted to do coming in was to make an impact right at the beginning.”

Young humbly spoke about how being nominated for the prestigious award has made him want to continue his success and be an “impact player.” He mentioned that his brother, sophomore forward Colton Young — who is also a member of the team — pushed him hard to get ready for their 2020-2021 season.

“Watching him come back for summer was a huge help and held me accountable. He was telling me how hard we’d have to work to get prepared for the season,” Young said. “I played with him in junior hockey and having him as a linemate again we get to share a college experience. I think we play really well together.”

The younger players are not the only ones facing new challenges and changes this season. The Raiders have to play the same four teams multiple times this season because there are only four teams in the entire league.

“It’s kind of a mental strain with what’s going on and keeping everyone focused and it’s tough with an ongoing pandemic, but there’s always pressure. In a regular year, we’d only play each team twice versus six times. You get to know the other guys pretty well and there’s obviously more tension and more competition. It riles you up more,” McKechney said.

McAvoy agreed with what his co-captain had to say about the difficulty of facing the same opponents over and over again. He emphasized that his team is doing their best to zero in on how to get better game by game. 

“We really know how to play against them and we’ve been playing well,” McAvoy said. “We try and have short-term memories here and refocus for the next game. Focus has been our big keyword the last few weeks. This is a young team just trying to figure out how to be ready from the puck drop.”

McAvoy made it a point to say that the Raiders’ winning momentum is not getting to their heads and distracting them from improving. He made it clear that they still have many things to improve upon for their seven remaining league games if they hope to win a national championship.

“There are things we can do better,” McAvoy said. “Everyone’s really on the same page of getting there and winning a national championship. I think we have the team to do it.”