The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Men’s Hockey Secures Bye, Seeks Second Straight Whitelaw Cup

Colgate Athletics / OIivia Hokanson

After finishing the 2022-2023 season as ECAC conference champions, the Colgate University men’s hockey team has carried last year’s success over into the 2023-2024 regular season. Despite a rocky 2-4-1 start to the year with losses to the University of Connecticut, Brown University and two to the University of Massachusetts Lowell, the Raiders more than solidified their status as a contender in the conference by winning five of their last six games.

After concluding the season with a 16-14-4 overall record and a 13-7-2 conference record, Colgate now sits as No. 3 seed in the ECAC conference standings and has clinched an opening-round bye in the ECAC playoffs. With some extra time to rest and strategize for the quarterfinals, the Raiders have high hopes of duplicating last year’s heroics and taking home the ECAC championship once again.

Despite Colgate’s late-season success earning them a place in the quarterfinals, there appears to be a general consensus among players that this bye is not an opportunity for the Raiders to slack off.

Sophomore goalie Andrew Takacs elaborated on the team’s commitment to staying focused on their end goal despite being granted a first-round bye.

“Our team is super competitive and that goes right into practice weeks regardless of who and when we play games,” Takacs said. “A super critical part of having a successful regular season and push in the playoffs is the ability to perform anywhere, any place and at any time.”

The Raiders acknowledge that the journey to the semifinals and final round at the Herb Brooks Arena at Olympic Center in Lake Placid, N.Y., will not be easy. However, recent wins against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Union College to close out the season surely provide the Raiders with some momentum heading into the playoffs.

Takacs spoke on how influential these two contests were to Colgate’s potential playoff run.

“The last two games are extremely critical to our run into the playoffs, regardless of the bye weekend,” Takacs said. “Regardless of who’s right behind us, the journey to Lake Placid and to the Whitelaw Cup could be completely different depending on our seeding, so it’s important that we continue playing our best hockey.”

The playoffs are not a foreign setting for this Colgate squad. The Raiders were able to defeat 1-seed Quinnipiac University in the semifinal round of the 2023 ECAC playoffs to advance to the championship game, where they would beat No. 2 seed Harvard University 3-2.

Sophomore defenseman Bobby Metz spoke on what last year’s playoffs have taught the Raiders about what to expect for this year’s tournament.

“Playoffs are a battle for sure, but we’ve been very focused on taking care of ourselves for some time now,” Metz said. “We stay focused on us and stick to our game.”

Despite Colgate’s success in the 2023 ECAC playoffs, they fell short on the national scale with an 11-1 loss to the No. 1 seed University of Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA Regional Semifinals.

Sophomore forward Sebastian Tamburro explained how this defeat has motivated the Raiders in their quest to return to the NCAA tournament.

“Last year’s loss to Michigan definitely left a bitter taste in our mouths,” Tamburro said. “The drive to keep the momentum comes from within the doors of our locker room. This has been the key to our successful regular season and will be the difference maker in the playoffs and hopefully going into the national tournament.”

The Raiders plan to keep playing with the same energy that led them to a triumphant 2023-2024 regular season. Tamburro outlined the team’s mentality that kept them relevant in this year’s ECAC standings.

“We have put in a ton of time and work together as a team throughout the regular season, which has shown through our success earning home ice and a bye,” Tamburro said. “This mentality has been constant throughout the year and is what we believe will give us success in the postseason and this weekend.”

While the Colgate men’s hockey team was able to close out this year’s regular season with several statement victories, including finishing one point behind No. 13 Cornell University in the ECAC standings, the Raiders are not done yet. The players and coaches have high hopes for the ECAC playoffs and hope to emulate their dominance that was on full display in last year’s tournament. The team is committed to remaining sharp and concentrated on the playoffs despite their opening-round bye, as the Raiders look to advance to the NCAA Regionals once again.

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