Men’s Hockey Remains Winless in ECAC

The Colgate men’s hockey team has strug­gled early in conference play, as it dropped both games in its opening home weekend of ECAC Hockey play. On Friday night, the Raiders dropped a 4-3 heartbreaker to the Princeton Tigers. The following afternoon, Colgate fell to the Quinnipiac Bobcats 3-1. Sophomore forward Kurtis Bartliff scored his first goal of the season in Friday’s defeat, while sophomore defenseman Thomas Lar­kin scored his third goal of the year. First-year forward Chris Wagner scored his second intercollegiate goal and first at Starr Rink and first-year goaltender Eric Mihalik made his first career start the following day.

“It’s very early in the season, so there is still a lot of hockey left to be played,” senior assistant captain Wade Poplawski said. “We just need to stay positive and focused on the task at hand. ECAC Hockey is funny in the sense that the standings can change quite a bit after just one weekend. So we’ll just keep working, and our goals and wins will come.”

Another slow start hurt Colgate in Friday night’s game. Just like the previous weekend at Clarkson, the Raiders were scored on in their first shift as the Tigers’ first-year for­ward Andrew Calof put the puck past ju­nior goaltender Alex Evin. Three minutes later Princeton struck again, this time on the power play to take a two-goal lead and sink Colgate further into a hole.

Throughout the rest of the period, play evened out and the Raiders were able to cre­ate good scoring chances, yet were unable to put anything past the Tigers’ senior goal­tender Alan Reynolds. At 14:39, Princeton scored a third goal, giving the impression that the contest was all over. A little under two minutes later, however, at the 16:16 mark, Colgate showed some of its past re­siliency when Larkin scored off assists by junior forward Nick Prockow and first-year forward Anthony Hamburg. The goal gave the Raiders an opportunity to turn things around heading into the first intermission.

The late goal seemed to have given Colgate momentum heading into the second period, as the Raiders proceeded to dominate the second period and pepper Princeton’s goalie with shots, forcing him to make unbelievable saves. Evin, having recovered from the slow start to the game, also made some incredible stops of his own. The only goal of the period would not come until the 15:51 mark, when Bartliff scored off assists by junior defense­man Corbin McPherson and sophomore defenseman Nathan Sinz. Colgate was rid­ing high heading into the final 20 minutes of play, having cut the Tiger lead to only one goal.

The final frame of the game began with the Raiders controlling the play early on. Exactly five minutes in, sophomore defenseman Jeremy Price scored his first goal of the young season, assisted by sophomore forward Robbie Bourdon and first-year forward Mike McCann, tying the score at 3-3. Three minutes later, Colgate was awarded a power play that would change mo­mentum throughout the rest of the contest. While the Raiders continued to attack the Ti­gers’ net, Princeton’s goaltender stood strong, frustrating Colgate’s attempts several times. Ten seconds after the power play expired, the Tigers’ Mike Kramer scored the game-winning goal on a breakaway. Despite outshooting Princeton 35-30 throughout the evening, the Raiders were forced to walk away empty-handed.

“We’ve talked about being ready to play right from the first drop of the puck, but I think we’re almost psyching ourselves out at this point and maybe making ourselves nervous,” Poplawski said. “If we commit to playing aggressive but under control before the first shift, then we’ll be ready for the start of all of our games.”

The following afternoon, Colgate at­tempted to pick up the pieces of the previous three games against Quinnipiac. The game did not begin well for the Raiders. Several questionable calls gave Colgate two penal­ties in the first five minutes of the contest. The Raiders stood tall; however, as Mihalik stopped 11 shots throughout the first period to keep the game scoreless heading into the first break in play.

The second period could not have be­gun better for Colgate, as Wagner scored his second goal of the year, assisted by Bour­don and Poplawski. The Raiders proceeded to control play throughout the first half of the period, before being forced to kill an­other penalty. With 31 seconds remaining in their man-advantage, the Bobcats got on the board, knotting the game at one. Later in the stanza, at the 18:56 mark, Quinni­piac was awarded a controversial goal. The tally had originally been waved off, but af­ter a second review, the goal was declared legitimate and the Raiders headed into the second intermission down a goal and with a penalty to kill.

That late goal shifted momentum and the Bobcats proceeded to control play at the be­ginning of the third period. At 7:30, 58 sec­onds into a power play, Quinnipiac cashed in and took the 3-1 lead that it would main­tain for the rest of the competition. From then on, Colgate desperately attempted to cut its opponent’s lead and get back in the game, but the Raiders’ efforts were continu­ally stopped by the Bobcats’ goaltender. No more goals would be scored and ‘Gate suf­fered its third straight defeat at the hands of Quinnipiac, despite outshooting its oppo­nent for the second time for the weekend by a 30-27 margin.

“Overall, we played a decent game,” Poplawski said. “It would have been nice to score on a few more of our chances, which would have definitely helped.”

This upcoming weekend Colgate will host the Brown University Bears and the No. 5 Yale University Bulldogs for a crucial weekend of ECAC Hockey play, which will mark the Raiders’ last con­ference games of the calendar year. Both games will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday or Saturday, respectively.

“Each year a team can be quite differ­ent from the previous year,” Poplawski said. “We’ll watch game tape of both of this week­end’s opponents to figure out what adjust­ments need to be made to our systems. If we work hard and play the way that we’re capable of, then we should be able to win both games.”

Colgate will next take on Brown Univer­isty tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. at home and Yale University on Saturday at the same time.

Next Tuesday, Colgate will travel to Niagara Falls, NY to take on the Niagara Purple Eagles at 7:00 before making the trek down to New­ark, NJ for a clash against archival Cornell in the Prudential Center, home of the New Jersey Devils at 7:30 p.m. on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.