Men’s Hockey Beats Army in Season Opener

Jaime Heilbron

Last Saturday the Colgate men’s hockey team traveled to Hyannis, MA to partake in the inaugural Cape Cod Collegiate Classic against the Army Black Knights. The Raiders came out victorious in their first game of the season, defeating the Black Knights by a score of 3-1. Senior captain Brian Day led the team with a goal and an assist.

Saturday night was a night of firsts for several Colgate players. First-year forward Mike McCann scored his first intercollegiate goal, the game-winning tally, while first-year forward Chris Wagner and sophomore forward Billy Rivellini obtained their first career points off assists. Junior goaltender Alex Evin stopped 22 out of 23 shots faced to earn his first victory of the season.

“It felt great getting my first goal,” McCann said. “I am glad that my family was able to be there for it and that we were able to win our first game.”

As can be expected this early in the season, the first period was sloppy on both sides with the referees being forced to blow their whistles more often than normal. While it allowed both teams to study each other and get used to competitive ice hockey after a long summer off, Army seemed to take the initiative away from the Raiders. The Black Knights fiercely attacked the Colgate net, but Evin stood on his head to keep them off the scoreboard. West Point outshot ‘Gate 10-5 throughout the first 20 minutes.

Momentum quickly shifted to the Raiders’ side early in the second frame. A minute into the period, Day scored Colgate’s first goal of the season off assists from Wagner and senior assistant captain François Brisebois. From then on, the Raiders dominated the contest in its entirety. The rest of the period belonged solely to ‘Gate, but Army’s Jay Clark stood strong and did not allow any more goals. The score at the end of two periods remained 1-0 in Colgate’s favor. Despite outshooting the Black Knights 22-2 in the second was unable to build up on its lead.

The contest’s third stanza was also the most intense of the three. With both teams having already settled in, the Raiders and Black Knights traded scoring opportunities that were stopped by both goaltenders in impressive fashion. Colgate seemed to break the game wide open at the 8:52 mark when McCann scored assisted by Rivellini, but the play ended with McCann being called for a goaltender interference penalty after scoring, which led to a power play for the Black Knights. Army did not take long to cash in on the extra-man advantage, doing so 14 seconds later at 9:06, thus putting the game back within one goal.

The rest of the frame saw both teams fighting fiercely to score. The Raiders were concentrating on maintaining their lead, while at the same time attempting to increase it, while Army was simply looking for ways to tie up the game.

The suspense ended with 22 seconds left on the clock when junior forward Austin Smith scored an empty-net goal, assisted by Day, to secure Colgate’s 3-1 victory. The victory improved the Raiders to 37-16-5 in their all-time record against the Black Knights.

“As a team we put more pressure in the slot and did well getting shots on net and getting second chances in the last two periods,” McCann said. “We focused on controlling the front of our net and taking away good scoring opportunities from them. Evin did a great job keeping them from scoring throughout the entire game.”

The Raiders will take the ice this coming Saturday in a home exhibition match against the Brock University Badgers from Ontario. The exhibition will serve as a prelude to their upcoming two-game series up in the northern-most part of Michigan, where they take on the Lake Superior State University Lakers in eight days.

“I think we need to keep working on taking away scoring chances from the other team in front of our net and also getting the puck deep in our opponent’s zone,” McCann said.  “We have to keep putting the puck on the net and creating good scoring opportunities for ourselves. If we work as a unit the way we did against Army, I think we will do well this weekend.”

Puck drop for Saturday’s exhibition tilt is set for 7:30 p.m. at Starr Rink.