It was a tale of two teams for the Colgate Raiders this past weekend. On Friday night, Colgate obtained its first victory at Princeton since the 2006-2007 season with a 3-1 win, thus completing its first season sweep of its Ivy League rival since the 2004-2005 campaign.
Sophomore forward Austin Smith surpassed the amount of points he obtained as a first-year, with a goal and an assist. Senior co-captain Ethan Cox scored his third goal of the year and fellow co-captain senior David McIntyre added another goal for the Raiders. The following evening a completely different Colgate squad came out to play. The Raiders were unable to generate much offense against the Quinnipiac Bobcats and fell 2-0 in a defensive duel between two usually high-scoring teams. Sophomore goaltender Alex Evin was once again outstanding, stopping 57 out of 60 shots faced throughout the weekend, good for a .950 save percentage and earning him the ECAC Goaltender of the Week award for the first time.
“We have practiced a lot lately about going to the net and sticking around the blue paint,” Cox said. “Luckily the puck just kind of bounced out to me in front of the net. We have to keep going to the net and sticking around for rebounds and we will start to get more bounces like that.”
Colgate came out determined to avenge the heart-breaking 2-1 overtime loss suffered at the hands of the Princeton Tigers in their last visit to the Hobey Baker Rink during the 2008-2009 season. The first period of the game, however, was very evenly played and featured several fantastic saves from both net minders that impeded the two squads from drawing first blood. At the end of the first twenty minutes of the game, the Raiders and Tigers were almost even in shots, with Princeton holding the advantage 8-7, despite Colgate dictating play throughout the period.
The second session was arguably the most exciting of the night. The Raiders came out hungry and pressured the Tigers into making mistakes. The first goal of the game came at the 8:19 mark of the period when Smith scored on the power play after receiving a beautiful pass from first-year defenseman Jeremy Price, with first-year forward Robbie Bourdon getting the second assist. A little over a minute later, Cox scored what proved to be the game-winning goal off assists by senior forward Jason Williams and sophomore defenseman Corbin McPherson. Colgate continued its attack, hoping to increase its lead but Princeton’s All-American goaltender Zane Kalemba stopped any attempt by the Raiders. Towards the end of the period, with a little less than five minutes left in the second, the Tigers cut Colgate’s lead in half, making the game 2-1 heading into the second intermission.
The final period of the game was one of the finest played by the Raiders so far this season. The poise with which they dictated the play and prevented Princeton from accomplishing anything was truly impressive. With 12 seconds left in the game, McIntyre scored an empty-net power play goal to seal the Colgate victory.
“Princeton is a good team and they have had our number in past years,” Cox said. “But we know as a team that you have to show up every night and be ready to compete. Dwelling and looking in the past doesn’t do anything for you so we know that we have to approach each game with a clean slate and a hungry attitude to go out and compete at our best.”
The following evening Colgate played one of its worst games of the year against Quinnipiac. From the beginning of the first period, Quinnipiac took the play to the Raiders, who throughout the first half of the period were unable to respond. Halfway through the period, the Raiders seemed to be coming to their senses, taking shots at the net, yet at the same time being unable to create quality scoring chances. Towards the end of the first period, the Bobcats’ Greg Holt scored to go ahead on the
In the second period, the Raiders seemed to have regained their confidence from the previous night and began taking the play to Quinnipiac, but once again were unable to capitalize on their chances, despite enjoying several power play opportunities. The second period of the game was very similar to the first in that the goaltenders both stood on their heads to keep the game close.
Colgate came out with ferocity in the final twenty minutes, playing with desperation but once again suffering awful puck luck. Numerous opportunities to score went awry and it seemed as if it was simply not the Raiders’ night. Late in the session, a controversial call awarded the Bobcats a five-on-three power play, on which they scored to put the game away 2-0. Evin had his seventh consecutive strong performance in net for Colgate stopping 34 out of 36 shots for the boys from Hamilton.
“There were some chances throughout the game whether it be power play or good chances around the net that didn’t go in for us,” Cox said. “Quinnipiac played a solid defensive game and at the end of the night they were the better team. We have to stay committed to our process and stick to the systems and be willing to grind it out every night and compete at a higher level than the other team. It’s a mental thing and our focus level has to be raised for our run down the stretch.”
This coming weekend the Raiders will begin a three-game home stand that will begin on Friday against sixth-ranked Yale, followed by Brown on Saturday and the annual showdown against eighth-ranked Cornell on Tuesday.
“Patience is a big key for us this year,” Cox said. “It’s a 60 minute game and we know that we have to be ready to go for the entire game and not take shifts off. We are excited about having three games in a short period of time. It allows us to stay mentally sharp and focused on the task at hand. We have to stick to our systems and let the game come to us. Success will come if we stay disciplined within ourselves and keep the momentum moving forward.”
All three games will begin at 7 p.m.
Contact Jaime Heilbron at [email protected]