Men’s Hockey Takes Down Fourth in the Nation


Something special may be brewing in Hamilton. The Colgate men’s hockey team returned to Starr Rink for its home opening series against the fourth-ranked Miami Uni­versity RedHawks last weekend. The Raiders dropped a heartbreaker on Friday by a score of 4-3, but bounced back in impressive fashion to secure the split with a 3-2 come-from-behind overtime victory on Saturday. Senior forward Austin Smith had two tallies on the weekend, one in each game. Sophomore forward Chris Wagner exploded with a three-point weekend with a goal and two assists, while senior forward Austin Mayer scored the game-winning goal on Saturday, his first one of the campaign.

“The major lesson we take from this week­end is that we can play and beat anyone in the country,” Smith said. “Our ultimate goal is to win an ECAC Hockey championship and to find ourselves in the NCAA tournament at the end of the year.”

On Friday, Colgate came out with fire and determination to back up the previous week­end’s success. This was shown by the way the Raiders took the play to the visiting Red­Hawks, outhustling them and outplaying them throughout the period. It was Miami, however, that opened the scoring with a four-on-three power play goal at 9:26. Soon after, however, the RedHawks got whistled for a penalty and Colgate immediately cashed in on its power play at 10:11 with Smith scoring his second goal of the year assisted by junior defenseman Jeremy Price and first-year defenseman Spiro Goulakos. A few minutes later the Raiders once again benefitted from the man advantage and a little under five minutes after their first goal Wagner scored assisted by Goulakos and Price to give Colgate a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission. The defensive corps did a great job of containing the high-powered Miami of­fense, allowing only three shots on goal to the Raiders’s 12.

The second stanza was similar to the first, with both teams playing a back-and-forth game until its middle point, when Miami be­came physical and slowly took momentum and control of the contest away from the Raiders, proving it’s position as one of the elite teams in the nation. Late in the period, the RedHawks benefitted from a power play to knot the game at two with fewer than two minutes left in the period at the 18:20 mark.

The third frame could not have had a worse start for Colgate. Just 40 seconds into it, Mi­ami scored to take a lead it would not relin­quish throughout the rest of the game and a few minutes later at 3:52 added an insurance goal to make it 4-2. From then on, the Raiders regained their energy, but it was too late as the RedHawks went into lockdown mode, playing a secure brand of hockey and giving Colgate little chance to get back on the scoreboard. The Raiders eventually did when sophomore for­ward Mike McCann scored to make it 4-3 with 32 seconds left in the contest, assisted by senior forward Matt Firman and first-year forward John Lidgett, but it was not enough and Miami took the 4-3 win.

“The season is young, and early on teams are more prone to make mistakes,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, we had a few costly mistakes at the beginning of the third period and it costs us the game. We played close to 55 minutes that night but it takes a full 60 to win.”

The following evening Colgate came out to play with a purpose. At home in Starr Rink, ‘Gate would fight until the end to prevent the RedHawks from leaving Hamilton with a weekend sweep and that they did. The Raid­ers came out in the first period with a similar fire as that of the previous night, but with even more determination. It was once again Miami, however, that drew first blood after forcing a turnover in Colgate’s defensive zone. The Raid­ers soon raised their level of play, which made for an entertaining end to the period with both teams trading scoring opportunities.

Within the first five minutes of the second period, Colgate was called for two contiguous penalties and forced to kill a five-on-three Red­Hawk power play for a little less than a min­ute, which it did successfully. That shot of con­fidence would prove crucial, as Miami seemed a bit disconcerted throughout the rest of the period, getting called for penalty after penalty, which allowed the Raiders to enjoy a total of three five-on-three power plays as well as take momentum of the game. Colgate finally got on the board on its third five-on-three oppor­tunity when junior forward Robbie Bourdon scored his second of the season, assisted by Wagner and junior tri-captain Thomas Larkin. The Raiders and the RedHawks entered the fi­nal 20 minutes of the contest engaged in a 1-1 stalemate, but one that had a different feel to that of the previous night’s.

Colgate continued to dominate the contest early in the third frame, which was a critical part of the period, given that it was in the first five minutes of the previous night’s game in which Miami pulled away. It was the Red­Hawks, however, who scored the next goal, retaking the lead at 2-1. That lead did not last long, as Smith proved himself once again to be a clutch player for the Raiders by quickly tying up the game at two at 12:03, finishing off a beautiful tic-tac-toe play that started with first-year forward Joe Wilson, who received the secondary assist after handing the puck to Wagner, who had the primary helper.

Colgate continued to control play in the period, but found itself unable to figure out the visiting goaltender. With a little under two minutes left in the contest, something occurred that could have ended the Raiders’s aspirations, when ‘Gate was called for a penalty for having an extra player on the ice. Colgate killed the penalty for what remained of the stanza, but would still find itself down a man for the first 36 seconds of the sudden death extra session.

The Raiders’s penalty kill remained impec­cable throughout the evening and Colgate was awarded with a power play of its own 57 seconds into the overtime period. After several close calls, Mayer scored with a second remain­ing on the man advantage to give the Raiders the victory after deflecting a shot from senior tri-captain Corbin McPherson, who received the puck from senior forward Nick Prockow.

“The biggest factor in Saturday’s win was team chemistry and belief,” Smith said. “The character of this team is a complete 180 de­gree change from what it was last season. We all believe that we are going to win every time we step on the ice. We aren’t hoping to win, we are expecting to win.”

This upcoming Saturday No. 14/16 Colgate will travel to Hyannis, Massachusetts to take on Army in the second annual Cape Cod Classic.

“We can expect a hard fought battle against a team that will compete every shift,” Smith said. “We have to go in and play a physical game for 60 min­utes or more to get the win. We have to continue to raise our level of play and push the envelope. Our days of sitting back and waiting for something to happen are over. We need to be declarative and play our brand of hockey every night.”

The contest is slated for a 7 p.m. start.

Contact Jaime Heilbron at

[email protected].