Men’s Hockey Skates by Ivy League Foes

Jaime Heilbron

Last weekend the Colgate men’s hockey team took an important step toward securing a first-round bye in the ECAC Hockey playoffs and maintained an outside shot at capturing the regular season crown. The Raiders defeated Yale on Friday by a score of 4-2 and Brown on Saturday by a score of 7-6 in an offensive slugfest. It also served as a coming of age for first-year forward John Lidgett, who had his most productive weekend of the season with three goals and three assists, including having a hand in all four tallies on Friday.

“I feel that this season I have been a bit snake-bitten in terms of production, so it was nice to help the team out and contribute offensively,” Lidgett said. “My preparation this weekend was the same as always. It was nice to finally get some lucky bounces. I’m fortunate to play with such great players like [junior forward] Kurtis Bartliff and [senior forward] Nick Prockow; we were really able to click as a line this weekend and put some points on the board.”

On Friday evening, Colgate came out on fire for the game’s first period, hoping to end the Bulldogs’ winning and shutout streak of two games in the series. The Raiders started taking the game to Yale by being physical and keeping the puck in the offensive zone, which led the vis­itors to take a penalty. Colgate quickly cashed in on the man advantage, scoring six seconds into it at 3:26. Senior tri-captain Corbin McPherson blasted a one-timer into the net, assisted by se­nior forward Austin Mayer and Lidgett. That would be the only goal of the period, but the Raiders would keep pressing throughout the rest of it and stop the Bulldogs anytime they tried to create offense.

The second stanza did not start too well for Colgate, as Yale, the league’s top team through­out the past three seasons, took control of the game and kept ‘Gate on its heels. Throughout the first half of the period, the Raiders were able to withstand the pressure brought forth by the Bulldogs, until Colgate took a penalty at 10:13. As the power play was winding down, Yale fi­nally got one past sophomore goaltender Eric Mihalik to knot the game at one at the 11:51 mark. The Bulldogs’ goal seemed to wake up the Raiders, however, and on their fourth power play of the game Colgate took the lead when Lidgett scored his second goal of the season at 15:14, assisted by Bartliff and Mayer to give the Raiders a 2-1 lead heading into the final 20 minutes of the contest.

The goal seemed to have reawakened Colgate as ‘Gate took over control in the initial minutes of the final frame, but was unable to cash in on its opportunities. A controversial tally after a delayed penalty allowed Yale to tie the game at 5:32, but karma would reward the Raiders as Lidgett completed his first career multi-goal game at 11:15 with a shot from the right circle that made it through the Bulldogs’ Jeff Mal­colm’s five-hole. Senior forward Austin Smith scored an insurance empty net goal at 19:13 and with that he increased his season total to a nation-high 31 goals.

“Friday’s game was a testament to how much character our team has,” Lidgett said. “When Yale tied the game up 2-2, a lot of teams around the country would have deflated and sat back on their heels. The difference with our team is that we have such great leadership that they don’t allow for that to happen.”

Saturday’s game could not have had a bet­ter start for Colgate. The Raiders quickly got on the board at 1:33 after a goal by senior forward Matt Firman assisted by Mayer and junior for­ward Robbie Bourdon. Brown, however, tied the game soon after at 2:54. With Colgate on a power play, the Bears took the lead with a short-handed goal at 9:45. The Raiders answered soon after to knot the game at two with a goal by Prockow, assisted by Bartliff and Lidgett. Brown retook the lead at 13:52 with a power play tally, but just when it looked like the visitors would go into the first intermission with the lead, first-year defenseman Spiro Goulakos tallied his sec­ond of the season to cap off a wild period that ended with the contest tied at three.

The second stanza belonged completely to the Raiders. It seemed as if Colgate had recov­ered its legs early in the period, as ‘Gate domi­nated the Bears throughout its entirety. Lidgett gave the Raiders their second lead of the game with an even-strength goal at 5:18, assisted by Mayer and junior defenseman Nathan Sinz. A little over five minutes later, at 10:47, Smith tal­lied his 32nd of the year, off assists from sopho­more forward Chris Wagner and Sinz. To cap off the scoring, first-year forward Joe Wilson scored Colgate’s 11th short-handed tally of the campaign at 17:03.

The beginning of the final frame was an in­dication of how nerve-racking the third period would be. Just 1:05 into the stanza, Brown pulled within two at 6-4. McPherson scored his second of the weekend at 5:19 to give the Raiders some breathing room, but the Bears would tally the last two goals of the game at 11:59 and 13:17 as Colgate held on to take a crucial 7-6 win.

“Our leaders have to take all the credit for us taking the two points on Saturday night,” Lidgett said. “Giving up leads like that is some­thing that you never want to see, but it just goes to show the character of our team being able to weather the storm and ultimately do what we needed to do to get the two points. Sometimes you have to win ugly games, and that’s what we did on Saturday.”

This upcoming weekend the Raiders will travel to the North Country to take on the St. Lawrence Saints and the Clarkson Golden Knights. Colgate will try to break a three-game losing streak at St. Lawrence’s Appleton Arena on Friday and try to extend its five-game unbeaten streak at Clarkson.

“Going into this weekend it’s going to be business as usual, and we’re going to prepare to the same way as we always do,” Lidgett said. “Our team expects to win every game, and I think that that is a great mindset to have going into the stretch run of our season.”

Both contests are slated to begin at 7 p.m.

Contact Jaime Heilbron at [email protected].