Men’s Hockey are ECAC Champions

For the first time in 33 years, Men’s Hockey has brought the Whitelaw Cup back to Hamilton, winning the ECAC. While most students were away from campus over spring break, the hockey team was here in Hamilton, training before a trip to Lake Placid, NY where the ECAC tournament occurs each year. 

Colgate entered the tournament after finishing the regular season in fifth place behind St. Lawrence, Cornell, Harvard, and Quinnipiac, in descending order. The Raiders began post-season play on March 3rd in Hamilton as they dominated Dartmouth in the first round of the ECAC tournament. The following weekend they took their three-game series in just two games against St. Lawrence in order to advance to Lake Placid for the semifinal and championship games, played on back-to-back nights. 

Colgate advanced to the championship after a hard-fought game and almost 90 minutes of hockey against Quinnipiac on Friday, March 17. Colgate was able to jump out to an early lead against the Bobcats as Freshman forward Daniel Panetta put one in with the assist from junior Levi Glasman. However, the Raiders were not able to hold on to their lead as the Bobcats were able to put points on the board early in the third period. 

The score was even throughout the remainder of regulation, and through the entirety of the first overtime. Colgate headed into second overtime with the hopes of keeping their season alive and were able to, thanks to junior Ross Mitton. Senior Matt Verboon found sophomore Alex Dipaolo who was able to take a quick shot that went just inches wide of the net, and Mitton was there to recover and bury the loose puck

“We played excellent defense which helped us create more offensively in transition. We stuck to our identity and were able to complete the first win against Quinnipiac to move onto the finals,” noted Mitton, reflecting on the semi-finals. 

The entire weekend in Lake Placid was taxing for the team, as they played through four and a half periods of hockey on Friday before suiting up again against Harvard less than 24 hours later. 

“It was very difficult. We had a ton of guys cramping up, especially our goalie Carter Gylander who was battling to stand up straight during the game. Between periods we had a lot of bananas, Gatorades, and BioSteels to keep us fueled up and hydrated. After the game we kept hydrating, got a good meal in us, and went to bed as early as possible. It was definitely one of the longest games I have ever played but I thought we were the better-conditioned team,” junior Ross Mitton said of their battle against Quinnipiac that was decided by his game-winning goal.

Mitton was one of four Raiders to receive post-season honors from the ECAC. Mitton, along with Alex Young and Carter Gylander, was named to the 2023 ECAC Hockey Men’s All-Tournament Team. Gylander was also honored as the ECAC Hockey Men’s Tournament Most Outstanding Player. Senior Matt Verboon was also awarded the ECAC Hockey Men’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year prior to the tournament weekend. 

Despite the fact that the Raiders, the fifth seed, were facing the second seed Harvard (ranked sixth in the nation), Colgate advanced to the championship without a lack of confidence. 

“We were ready to prove ourselves after a disappointing end to the regular season. Even though we were the fifth seed we did not have an underdog mindset, we had already beaten Quinnipiac and Harvard in the regular season, so we knew that we could do it again. As we progressed further our confidence kept growing and we knew that winning the championship was a real possibility,” Alex Young said of the team mentality approaching the postseason.

In the opening minute of the championship game, Harvard got a penalty for interference, giving Colgate an extra skater. Colgate was able to capitalize on the opportunity as senior Colton Young was able to put the puck between the pipes just a minute and one second into the game. The Raiders would extend this lead later in the first as Alex Young tallied an unassisted goal. 

It wasn’t until the second period that Harvard put up their first points of the game. Yet Colgate quickly responded within four minutes as junior Levi Glasman was able to put one in, assisted by Nick Anderson and Simon Labelle. While Colgate entered the third period up 3-1, Harvard fought their way back with seven minutes left to play; yet the Raiders remained on top to raise the Whitelaw Cup for only the second time in program history. Harvard outshot the Raiders 36 to 23, with 16 of those shots coming in the third period.

“Coming into the season we knew we had the talent to get to this point… We knew we had it in us, we beat some really good teams along the way…We knew we had it in us we just had a find a way to bring it every night,” Don Vaughan told ESPN.

The only other time Colgate was crowned ECAC champion was back in 1990. That year, Colgate won both the ECAC regular season and the tournament – posting their best season to date, the Raiders went on in the NCAA tournament to reach the finals and lose to Wisconsin by a score of 7-3. Colgate dominated the ECAC in the 1989-1990 season, topping the league with 37 points, 9 points more than second-place Rensselaer.

Winning the ECAC tournament secured the Raiders one of four available automatic bids to the NCAA tournament, a select field of 16 teams. They were joined by fellow ECAC teams Quinnipiac, Harvard, and Cornell who all gained entry to the tournament due to their national rankings. This was Colgate’s sixth appearance in the NCAA tournament in program history and most recent since the 2013-14 season. The Raiders lost to the Michigan Wolverines in the opening round in Allentown, Pennsylvania. 

“This is one of the tightest-knit teams that I have been a part of. Everyone is playing with the team goals in mind and our depth has been tremendous with many players making important contributions. Our goalie Carter Gylander has been outstanding every game and always gives us a great chance to beat any team,” Alex Young reflected on what has led to this successful season for the Raiders. 

“Somebody along the way once said that good things come to those who wait. Well, I have been doing this for 30 years and I am thrilled that we finally won a championship to bring back to our wonderful fans at Colgate,” Coach Don Vaughan told College Hockey News.