Men’s Hockey Splits Weekend Competitions

Last weekend, the Colgate men’s hockey team obtained a favorable result in its second straight ECAC Hockey road trip. On Friday evening, the Raiders throttled the No.14/17 Dartmouth Big Green 4-0 before falling to the Harvard Crimson 4-2 the following night in a penalty-ridden affair. Sophomore goaltender Eric Mihalik earned his first career shutout on Friday, while senior for­ward Austin Smith continued his strong start, ob­taining two points throughout the weekend off a goal and an assist. The senior has recorded a point in every game but one this year. Senior forward Matt Firman enjoyed a multi-point night and scored his first goal of the year on Friday. Sopho­more forward Chris Wagner had three points off a goal and two assists in the weekend, as well.

“It felt great to get a shutout, but most im­portantly, we got the win, which was a really big win for us,” Mihalik said. “They are a very skilled team offensively, but we did a great job defensive­ly by preventing them from getting a lot of good scoring chances.”

To put it simply, the first period of Friday’s game was a goaltender’s duel, as most of the game would prove to be. Both Mihalik and Dart­mouth’s Jason Mello gave a clinic on what great goaltending is all about by producing several im­pressive saves. While Colgate enjoyed the better scoring chances, it was unable to put the puck in the net. The Raiders outshot the Big Green 13-8 in the session.

Early in the second stanza, Colgate was able to use a power play to gather momentum. While the Raiders were unable to score on the man ad­vantage, it allowed them to control puck posses­sion at the beginning of the period. This in turn resulted in ‘Gate opening the scoring at 3:38 when sophomore forward Mike McCann blasted a slap shot past Mello from the top of the right circle, off assists from first-year forward Gudger Gentzler, who picked up his first intercollegiate point, and senior forward Mark Nasca. Through­out the rest of the stanza, Colgate proceeded to dominate the game, but Mello stood tall and stopped each puck that came his way.

The third frame could not have had a better start for the Raiders. Colgate once again held puck possession from the get-go and maintained the puck in Dartmouth’s end for long periods of time. The Raiders scored their second tally, when Wagner potted his third of the year assisted by Smith and junior defenseman Nathan Sinz. 39 seconds later, Colgate took a commanding 3-0 lead when senior forward Nick Prockow scored his second goal of the year off assists from Fir­man and senior forward Austin Mayer. The bulk of Mihalik’s work came in the final 20 minutes, which is when he made 15 of his 30 saves as the Big Green, overcome by desperation, attacked the Raider net with all they had. Firman put the ic­ing on the cake at 16:35 with a power play tally assisted by Mayer and senior tri-captain Kevin McNamara to make the final score 4-0.

“It was just a solid all-around team win,” Mi­halik said. “We worked hard, got a lot of good scoring chances, played solid defensively and stayed disciplined. We also got a big goal early in the second from Mike McCann and then got the three in the third to finish them off.”

On Saturday, things seemed to be going well for Colgate at the start. Junior forward Robbie Bourdon drew first blood at 7:31 of the first pe­riod, assisted by Wagner and first-year defense­man Spiro Goulakos. From then on, the Raiders dominated the session, outworking and outplay­ing Harvard in every facet of the game. Colgate outshot the Crimson 14-9 throughout the first 20 minutes.

Harvard quickly knotted the game at one to start the second stanza, scoring at 3:54. Soon af­ter, however, the Raiders retook the lead by tally­ing a five-on-three goal at 5:24. Smith scored his tenth of the season, assisted by Wagner and junior defenseman Jeremy Price. That was the last good thing that would come for Colgate throughout the entire game.

Throughout the rest of the period, the Raid­ers suffered from controversial officiating, getting called for a five-minute major at 10:43, which they managed to kill off. At 14:48, a brawl broke out between Colgate and Harvard players that sent several skaters from both teams to the pen­alty box. The Raiders took the hardest hit, how­ever, getting called for another five-minute pen­alty from which the Crimson did take advantage. Harvard scored two power play goals at 16:32 and 17:51 to take a 3-2 lead heading into the final 20 minutes of the contest.

Colgate came out determined in the third frame to retake control of the game and leave New England with a weekend sweep, but it was not be. Harvard added an insurance goal at 2:43 to take a 4-2 lead that it would not relinquish. Throughout the rest of the session, the Raiders poured shot after shot on the Crimson’s Steve Michalek, but he frustrated each and every one of their attempts, which forced Colgate to settle for a weekend split. There is no doubt, however, that the two major penalties in the second session changed the momentum of the game completely.

“Those penalties definitely played a significant role in the outcome,” Mihalik said. “Any five-minute major is tough to kill off, but having two called against you in the same period really hurt us, especially because they got two goals during the second one.”

This upcoming weekend, the No. 17 Raiders will return to the friendly confines of Starr Rink to welcome the Quinnipiac Bobcats and Princ­eton Tigers in ECAC Hockey action. The follow­ing Friday, November 25, Colgate will travel to Burlington, Vermont to take on the University of Vermont Catamounts.

“We need to stick to what we’ve been doing so far,” Mihalik said. “We’ve been playing really good hockey all year and we just need to continue that this weekend and the next and hopefully we can come out with three wins.”

Tomorrow’s contest is slated for a 7 p.m. start, while Saturday’s will begin at 4 p.m. Next Friday at Vermont puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m.

Contact Jaime Heilbron at [email protected].