Last weekend, the Colgate men’s hockey team opened ECAC Hockey play by visiting the Brown Bears on Friday and the No. 9 Yale Bulldogs on Saturday. On Friday, Colgate defeated Brown, 5-3, earning Head Coach Don Vaughan his 300th career win, before falling to Yale on Saturday, 2-0.
Senior forward Austin Smith continued his impressive start to the season by scoring two shorthanded goals on Friday, including the game-winner. Senior tri-captain Kevin McNamara scored his first tally of the year and added an assist, while junior defenseman Jeremy Price marked his return to the ice by scoring his first goal of the year. Sophomore goaltender Eric Mihalik stopped 53 of the 58 shots he faced over the course of the weekend.
“There’s really no easy win in this league, and with the older team that we have, we know to expect that each weekend,” McNamara said. “It was great to start off with a tough road win, but we have to continue to find a way to win these tight games each night. One win a weekend isn’t good enough for us.”
The Raiders did not get off to a promising start during the first period of Friday’s game against Brown. The Bears began the game by being physical and attempting to move the puck through the middle of the ice. An early penalty at 5:57 seemed to put the momentum completely on Brown’s side. However, while on the penalty kill, first-year defenseman Spiro Goulakos set up a two-on-one situation, which ended with him handing the puck to Smith for his eighth goal of the year at 6:35. Colgate proceeded to control the rest of the period and went into the first intermission holding a 1-0 lead.
In the second stanza, the Raiders once again faced a tough start after suffering three straight penalties. The Bears capitalized on their consecutive five-on-three power play situations. Brown’s first goal came at 3:00 while on a delayed penalty and with an extra skater on the ice. The Bears’s second tally came 74 seconds later while on another two-man advantage. Colgate recovered a little over three minutes later, however, when McNamara blasted a slap shot from the top of the right circle at 7:48 and was assisted by junior forward Robbie Bourdon and Goulakos. It was a well-timed goal, as Brown had just started to impose its game and was inching closer to increasing its lead. Towards the end of the session, the Raiders took advantage of their five-on-three man opportunity as Price blasted the puck from the top of the left circle for his first goal of the year, assisted by McNamara. Colgate once again found itself holding a lead heading into the second intermission.
At the beginning of the third frame, it seemed as if the Raiders were finally starting off on the right foot and setting the Bears back on their heels, just like Colgate had done in the previous period. However, Brown recovered and knotted the game at three at 6:25. The next few minutes led to an entertaining back and forth affair in which both goaltenders put on a show. When Colgate took a penalty at 14:46, it looked like it was the Bears’s time to take the lead for good. Smith, however, once again came through for Colgate with a timely tally as he scored his NCAA-leading third shorthanded goal of the season and ninth overall to put the Raiders ahead 4-3 at 15:25. After Colgate took the lead, Brown, desperate to tie the game, picked up its intensity. Throughout the last few minutes, especially after the Bears pulled their goaltender, Mihalik stood on his head to preserve the lead. Sophomore forward Chris Wagner clinched the victory for Colgate with five seconds left, scoring an empty net goal to make the final score 5-3.”It’s going to be important for us to continue to stay aggressive at all moments of the game,” McNamara said. “We can’t afford to pick and choose when we’re going to bear down and swing the momentum in our favor.”
The following evening, the No. 18 Raiders traveled to New Haven, Connecticut to take on Yale in a battle of nationally ranked teams that was reminiscent of last year’s ECAC Hockey Semifinal. Unfortunately for the Raiders, this contest played out similarly.
In the first period, Colgate came out stronger than the previous night, controlling and imposing its game from the get-go. The Bulldogs’s defense, however, stood strong as it would throughout the entire game.
By limiting the Raiders’s forwards to shots from the perimeter, the Bulldogs allowed the Raiders few scoring chances. At 10:12, Colgate was called for a questionable slashing penalty after a shot on goal. The Raiders were sent to the penalty box where they were forced to contain Yale’s power play, which has established a reputation as one of the most prolific in the country throughout the past three years. The Bulldogs’s power play lived up to its standing as Yale scored at 11:57 and took a 1-0 lead, which would stand throughout the rest of the session.
Colgate, determined to knot the game at one, came out with blood in its eyes for the second stanza. Yale’s defense remained strong and once again withstood the Raiders’s aggressive forecheck. At the same time, the Bulldogs created odd-man rushes, which resulted in either wide and high shots or spectacular saves by Mihalik. While Colgate may have held a dominant 15-4 advantage in shots on net throughout the period, it was the Bulldogs who created the most dangerous scoring opportunities.
The third frame was similar to the first, with the Raiders coming out strong, before Yale fought back and made the game into a back and forth affair. The Bulldogs added an insurance tally at 12:27, after forcing a turnover in Colgate’s defensive zone to take a definitive 2-0 lead that would stand throughout the remainder of the contest.
“We have to consistently get shots on net and bang in some ugly goals,” McNamara said. “We got the shots that we need on Saturday night, but most of them were from the perimeter. That’s fine, but we need to make sure that we’re taking advantage of the rebounds.”
This weekend, the No. 18 Raiders will once again hit the road and head to New England, but this time to take on the No. 14/17 Dartmouth Big Green on Friday and the Harvard Crimson on Saturday.
“We need to continue to play tough and keep it simple,” McNamara said. “They’re another two formidable opponents, and we’re going to have to stay focused for 120 minutes to get the job done this weekend.”
Both games are slated to begin at 7 p.m.
Contact Jaime Heilbron at [email protected]