Men’s Hockey Sweeps Senior Weekend Matchups

Jaime Heilbron

The Colgate men’s hockey team is officially sizzling. The Raiders have won four of their last five games, including two against nation­ally ranked teams. Last Friday night, Colgate knocked off No. 16 Dartmouth 5-3 and fol­lowed that effort with a 2-1 defensive shutdown of Harvard on Saturday. Senior assistant captain François Brisebois shined for the Raiders on Fri­day. Brisebois scored two goals, including the game-winner. Sophomore defenseman Kurtis Bartliff scored a goal and added two assists, while sophomore forward put forth his second multi-point game of the last three, potting a goal and dishing a helper. On Saturday, sophomore for­ward Robbie Bourdon scored the game-winning goal and posted an assist. First-year goaltender Eric Mihalik had another strong couple of out­ings in net, stopping 60 of 64 shots faced. With the sweep, the senior class finished its career at Starr Rink riding a three-game home win streak.

“It was nice to have such a successful weekend for our last couple of home games,” senior assis­tant captain Wade Poplawski said. “Anytime you win both games in a weekend it gives a good feel­ing, and even though it hasn’t really sunk in that I’ve played my last game at Starr, I’m sure when I look back on it a few years from now I’ll remem­ber just how special this weekend was, especially given that my entire family made the trip down here to watch.”

The first period saw the Raiders come out a little hesitant, which allowed the Big Green to take the initiative and gain control of the puck. Mihalik had several big stops in the initial min­utes to keep Colgate from falling into an early hole. Halfway through the frame, however, ‘Gate had found its groove and seized puck possession from Dartmouth.

At 11:37, Brisebois netted his 11th goal of the season on a power play, assisted by Bartliff and Price, to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead. Five min­utes later, Price added to Colgate’s lead with an unassisted tally and the hosts went into the first intermission holding a 2-0 lead.

The Raiders remained in control at the be­ginning of the second stanza, maintaining puck possession in the Big Green defensive zone. At 14:30, Bartliff scored on the man advantage off assists from Price and Poplawski to give Colgate a commanding 3-0 lead. A little over a minute later, however, Dartmouth quickly got on the scoreboard with a goal by Dustin Walsh to give the visitors a glimmer of hope.

The third frame began with the Big Green having seized momentum and taking the play to the Raiders. Dartmouth pulled within a goal’s reach at 7:17 with a power play tally by Connor Goggin.

Just when it seemed as if the Big Green was going to take complete control of the contest, Brisebois deflected a shot by sophomore defense­man Thomas Larkin into the net at 11:47. The goal was the eventual game-winner and gave Colgate a 4-2 lead.

Dartmouth’s Adam Estoclet scored with three minutes left to make things interesting, but an empty-net tally by first-year forward Chris Wagner with 15 seconds left sealed Colgate’s vic­tory. A crucial component for the Raiders’ vic­tory was the man advantage, which converted at 50 percent.

“We worked on a couple of different things on our power plays this past week in practice,” Poplawski said. “We concentrated on our move­ment without the puck to get open and the first couple of steps once you do get it. It seemed to open up a few more shooting lanes for us and we were getting to the net to jump on rebounds, which obviously paid off as well.”

Saturday’s contest began similarly to the previous night’s game. Both teams came out hesitant in order to test the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. It was the Crim­son who would draw first blood, however, as Danny Biega converted on Harvard’s first power play opportunity at 10:27.

A little over three minutes later, at 13:49, Colgate was on the board when Wagner put the biscuit in the basket for the second time in the weekend, assisted by Bourdon and junior forward Nick Prockow.

In the second stanza, Harvard’s Kyle Richter as well as Mihalik provided a goaltending clinic by stopping every shot they faced. Despite com­bining for 23 shots, neither the Raiders nor the Crimson were able break the tie.

Colgate came out flying in the third frame, determined to close the season’s home slate with a victory. Colgate took command of the puck and maintained pressure in Harvard’s end. The Raiders had several golden opportunities to take the lead, including a two-on-one situation but saw their efforts frustrated by the Crimson’s net minder.

Colgate’s patience paid off, however, when Bourdon tallied his ninth of the season at 14:02, assisted by Prockow and junior assistant captain Kevin McNamara. The goal was his third tally in four career games against Harvard.

The Crimson attempted to send the game to the extra session by pulling the goaltender with under a minute left in the contest, but the Raid­ers stood strong and protected their lead and successfully shut down Harvard.

“It takes a good team effort to shut down a team the way we did against Harvard,” Poplawski said. “I thought our forwards did a good job of getting back to help out defensively and that the defensemen kept most of their shots to the out­side, but I think more important was the way that Mihalik played. He made some big saves for us in both games this weekend. He was the real difference for us.”

This upcoming weekend, Colgate will hit the road to take on No. 3 Yale on Friday and Brown on Saturday. Both opponents defeated the Raiders earlier in the year at Starr Rink.

“We’re on a bit of a roll right now, having won four of our last five, so we’re feeling pretty good about that,” Poplawski said. “We realize the im­portance of maintaining that confidence going into the postseason, and that in order to win a championship we will have to win some games on the road. Therefore, we will treat these games as if they are playoff games to make sure we’re as prepared as possible.”

Both matchups are slated for 7 p.m. starts.