The Raiders have been red hot to start 2014. Skating against tough competition, they have rattled off seven straight victories and soared all the way to their well-deserved ranking at No. 18 in the most recent USCHO.com poll.
The Raiders began their recent upwards trend in their first matchup in this new calendar year. Facing off against the top team in the country, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, in the Mariucci Classic, the Raiders battled to a tie in regulation. To determine which team would head to the championship game the next day, the teams competed in a shootout. First-year Charlie Finn made big saves and sophomore defenseman Ryan Johnston came up with the game-winner to send the Raiders into the championship.
Competing against a familiar opponent from earlier in the season, the Raiders squared off against the Ferris State Bulldogs in the championship. From the puck drop, the Raiders had turned the table and dominated play, a big difference from their previous two meetings. Finn made 19 big saves in net and the Raiders saw scoring from every class year with senior forward Mike McCann, junior defenseman Spiro Goulakos and sophomore forward Darcy Murphy all pitching in with goals. First-year defenseman Brett Corkey led the team with two assists, and the Raiders picked up a big 3-0 win over another nationally-ranked opponent.
After their big victories in the Mariucci Classic, the Raiders came back to Hamilton and prepared for their matchup against another ranked opponent, the Vermont Catamounts. After Murphy got the Raiders out to an early 1-0 lead on the power play, the Spink twins, Tylor and Tyson, each contributed a goal. Tyson’s third period tally on the power play pushed the Raiders past the Catamounts 3-2 in a hard-fought battle on both ends of the rink. The Raiders’ victory marked their third straight win against ranked opponents, and gave them a momentum boost.
The Raiders hit the road again for two straight against tough ECAC opponents. The first came in Hanover, where the Raiders picked up an easy 4-1 victory over Dartmouth highlighted by two assists from Tyson and Tylor each. The very next night, the Raiders travelled to Cambridge where they faced a pesky Harvard team. Overcoming two Crimson power play goals, the Raiders picked up a 4-2 victory behind their three first
This past weekend, the Raiders returned home for two more big ECAC match ups. Facing the nationally-ranked Clarkson Golden Knights on Friday, the Raiders jumped out to an early lead as a bad bounce off the back boards put the puck in perfect position for junior forward Joe Wilson to score.
The Raiders kept up the pressure and scored shortly after in the first frame, with this goal coming on the power play. The Raiders’ top power play line of Spink-Baun-Spink worked its magic and Tylor’s one-timer beat the Golden Knights goalkeeper to put the Raiders ahead 2-0.
The Golden Knights would not go down easy as they dominated the play during the second period. After scoring on their power play halfway through the period to cut the Raiders lead in half, the Golden Knights took advantage of a 4-on-4 opportunity in the final minute of play. With just 12 seconds remaining, the Golden Knights put one past Finn to tie up the game.
Heading into the third period, both teams seemed determined to get the upper hand and pick up the victory. After a closely contested first few minutes, the Raiders got momentum as sophomore defenseman Kevin Lough broke up a Clarkson opportunity and found first-year Andrew Black. Black took the puck the rest of the way and after deking a Golden Knights defender, Black wristed a shot just by the goalie to give the Raiders a 3-2 advantage.
With the Raiders having the advantage they so desperately sought, they switched their mind and began to play a much more defensive game. Focusing on the back end of the ice, the Raiders became a strong defensive team and with a valiant effort from Finn in goal, the Raiders held on for the win.
The big victory carried the team into their next matchup as they came out the next night to take on the St. Lawrence Saints in another ECAC matchup. The Raiders started hot, and kept the tempo in their favor all night as they rolled on to a 7-3 victory over the Saints.
Colgate scored early with sophomore forward Kyle Baun putting the Raiders on the board just under five minutes into the game. Tyson Spink added another for the Raiders just six minutes later to put the Raiders in the lead 2-0. Spink would finish the night with four points, a team-high. After two Saints goals pulled the game even, Wilson scored off assists from Black and first-year defenseman Jake Kulevich to head into the first intermission with a 3-2 lead.
Baun tallied his second goal of the game on the power play with assists from Tyson and junior defenseman Spiro Goulakos to extend the Raiders lead in the second period. After McCann scored in the middle of the third period with both Spinks assisting on the goal, Baun put the game out of reach scoring on the power play. His third of the game, from Goulakos and sophomore forward Mike Borkowski, extended the Raiders lead to 6-2. After the Saints scored on the power play, Kevin Lough scored short-handed to get the Raiders their seventh and final goal of the night.
The Raiders look to continue their hot streak this weekend as they hit the road for two crucial ECAC match ups. After traveling to Providence to take on Brown this Friday, January 31, the Raiders face defending national champions Yale on Saturday, February 1, with a 7 p.m. start time for both games, respectively.
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