Men’s Hockey Battles Army to Stalemate

Jaime Heilbron


Last Saturday may have served as a wake­up call for the Colgate men’s hockey team. Ice Hockey is arguably the most competi­tive college sport and there is a thin line be­tween winning and losing, as shown by the numerous upsets that occur each weekend. The Raiders tied Army 2-2 in the second annual Cape Cod Collegiate Classic, but had to come from behind in order to do so. Senior forward Austin Smith continued his impressive start, scoring both of Colgate’s goals, while junior defenseman Nathan Sinz picked up his first point of the season on a secondary assist in Smith’s second tally. Senior goaltender Alex Evin stopped 22 of 24 shots faced, while the Raiders poured 33 shots on the Black Knight net.

“It seems that no matter how hard you try to prepare your body to perform opti­mally, there are just some nights in which you can’t find your legs or perform at that level,” Sinz said. “That may have been the case for some of us against Army. The tie was not what we hoped for, but it was great to see us battle back for the tie after being down 2-0 going into the third.”

Colgate came strong out of the gate in the first period. The Raiders dominated the first 20 minutes and had Army on its heels throughout the entire time, executing their game plan to perfection. Several acrobatic saves by the Black Knights’s Ryan Leets kept Colgate from drawing first blood, which is something that would have been more than deserved. While the Raiders may have controlled play in every department, being effective on defense as well, blocking shooting lanes and moving the puck out of their end with confidence, Army did not back down and attempted to impose its physical play on Colgate’s arguably more skilled players. The period, however, ended just like it started with neither team allow­ing a goal and the Raiders outshooting the Black Knights 12-6.

In the second stanza, Army seemed to have gained confidence after having suc­ceeded in containing the Colgate offense in the first, while the Raiders seemed to have lost the energy and momentum they car­ried in the first 20 minutes of the contest. The Black Knights opened the scoring in a weird play at 11:56. A few minutes later, a shot from the corner made its way past Evin at 16:11, resulting in Army holding a 2-0 lead going into the final period. Colgate found itself trailing going into the third stanza for the first time this season.

The third frame could not have had a better start for the Raiders. Just 56 sec­onds into the period, ‘Gate got itself on the scoreboard when Smith scored his fourth of the year, assisted by first-year Joe Wilson on a breakout. A little over three minutes later, while playing on a four-on-four situa­tion, Smith once again proved himself to be Colgate’s clutch player, drawing the game even with his second tally of the game, as­sisted by junior tri-captain Thomas Larkin and Sinz after a beautiful collective play. Throughout the rest of the frame and en­suing overtime session, the Raiders did all they could to notch their fourth win, but impressive saves by Leets, who stood on his head throughout the entire 65 min­utes, salvaged the tie for the Black Knights. While Colgate may not have won, its abil­ity to rally in four of the five contests it has participated in so far this season says a lot about the team’s never-give-up attitude and intentions.

“I thought it was only a matter of time, and we could all sense it in the locker room going into the third that we would come back,” Sinz said. “A key to the comeback was scoring the first goal early in the third period, as it swung momentum back in our favor.”

This upcoming weekend, the No. 16 Raiders will engage in a rare home series against non-conference opponent Niagara University Purple Eagles. Colgate will visit Niagara on Friday and then host the Purple Eagles on Saturday.

“We play our best when we get the puck deep behind our opponent’s goal line,” Sinz said. “We will need to continue to work on using our strong game down low in the offensive zone to create scoring opportu­nities and wear their defense down. This week we’ll definitely have to keep working on our zone defensively, like we have been, and breaking the puck out quickly. And af­ter last Saturday, I know that we will all be sure to be ready to battle against Niagara.”

Friday’s contest is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start, while Saturday’s will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Contact Jaime Heilbron at [email protected].