Men’s Hockey Ends Losing Streak with Weekend Split



Jaime Heilbron

This past weekend the Colgate men’s hockey team returned to ECAC Hockey play by opening up the 2010 league schedule with the dreaded North Country trip to St. Lawrence University and Clarkson University. On Friday night, the Raiders were shut-out 4-0 by the St. Lawrence University Saints for the first time since November 21, 2008 against Dartmouth, when the Raiders dropped a 1-0 battle. The hard-fought game remained scoreless until the halfway point of the third period. The following night, Colgate bounced back in great fashion, shellacking Clarkson by a score of 6-2 and in the process breaking a four-game losing streak and maintaining their now seven-game unbeaten streak at Clarkson’s Cheel Arena that dates back to the 2003-2004 season, when the streak began. Senior co-captain David McIntyre led the way with two goals and an assist, while sophomore forward Matt Firman also scored twice in the game. Sophomore forward Austin Smith and junior assistant captain Brian Day also had multi-point games. Sophomore goaltender Alex Evin returned from a lower body injury that kept him off the ice for six weeks and backstopped the Raiders to victory by blocking 27 out of 29 shots sent at him by Clarkson, after playing the final six minutes of Friday night’s game.

“I had about six strong practices in a row leading up to the game against Clarkson and I felt really confident that I could come back and help our team win,” Evin said. “I was more nervous the night before when Coach Vaughan decided to put me in with 6 minutes left in the game because I was sitting on the bench for two and a half hours.”

Colgate’s losing streak began on December 20 when they visited Canisius College. In a wild game that saw both teams holding two-goal leads at times, the Golden Griffins earned a decisive 7-6 victory in overtime. A couple of weeks later the Raiders participated in the Shillelagh Tournament, hosted by the University of Notre Dame. Colgate faced the then No. 20 Fighting Irish, falling 5-2 in a hard-fought game in which the Irish were saved only by their goaltender. The following night the Raiders fell to a well-known rival, the Niagara Purple Eagles, 5-1 in the consolation game.

Last Friday night, the boys from Hamilton returned to conference action by visiting Northern New York rival St. Lawrence. Colgate took the initiative at the beginning of the first period, maintaining most of the play on the Saints’ end of the ice. The Raiders, however, were unable to throw many shots on the net, especially in the power play, which would hurt them in the end. Midway through the first period, St. Lawrence received a golden opportunity when they were awarded a five-minute power play and halfway through it, it became a five-on-three opportunity for two full minutes. Colgate managed to hold on, however, and kill the penalty, thus the game remained scoreless after a period.

The second period of the game saw exciting hockey, as both the Raiders and the Saints came out hoping to open the scoring. Colgate had several opportunities in the power play, but was unable to capitalize. The game remained tied going into the final frame.

The third period saw two different parts. There was the first half, in which the game remained deadlocked, and then there was the second half, in which St. Lawrence scored the first goal of the game. After the Saints’ tally, the Raiders kept playing well and creating chances. It was not until the hosts’ second goal that momentum truly shifted, as they proceeded to score three goals in a span of two minutes to take a deceiving 4-0 victory over Colgate.

“We had our chances to score a couple goals, but we just didn’t get the right bounces at the right time,” Firman said. “This was a well-fought game for most of the night. Unfortunately they got a couple of late goals against us and it snowballed into the misleading 4-0 decision.”

Saturday night saw a completely different Colgate hockey team. It was a team on a mission that would not stop until it accomplished it by defeating Clarkson. From the moment the puck was dropped, the first period belonged to the Raiders. Colgate was beating the Golden Knights in every battle for the puck outplayed throughout the entire twenty minutes. Therefore it came as no surprise when Firman scored the first goal of the game at the 7:52 mark of the period, assisted by Day. Five minutes later, McIntyre scored to send the Raiders into the first intermission holding a well-deserved 2-0 lead.

The second period was controversial from beginning to end. It began with Clarkson being awarded several questionable power plays, including one to begin the period, which lead to the only goal of the frame: a five-on-three Golden Knight goal. Colgate was then punished with a five-minute penalty that the team killed off successfully, followed by other penalties. The most controversial decision came, however, was in the final minute of the period, when it looked like Smith had given the Raiders a 3-1 lead. The play went under review and the goal was called off on account of the net being moved out of position before the puck went in.

Colgate and Smith would exact their revenge in the final frame, however, when Smith scored the game-winning power play goal at the 5:28 mark, assisted by McIntyre and sophomore Kevin McNamara. Clarkson would score eight minutes later to cut the Raider lead to one. At the 16:11 mark, however, another play regarding a Colgate goal went under review. This time the call went the Raiders’ way as first-year Thomas Larkin scored his second goal of the season. The play was followed by two insurance goals scored by McIntyre and Firman, who now has three career goals against the Golden Knights, all scored on the road.

“I think this is just a weird coincidence, especially because their goaltender is a good friend of mine whom I played with in high school,” Firman said. “It’s fun to score on him because I give him a hard time every time I see him.”

This upcoming weekend Colgate will return to Starr Rink after two months of absence when they host the Robert Morris Colonials in their final non-conference series of the season. The Raiders currently hold an 8-9-4 record, but are 6-4-1 in the ECAC.

“We are definitely at a great spot in the league,” Firman said. “It’s awesome to know that we are so close to the top of the league with so many home games remaining. Fan support in this last stretch could really help as we push towards the top of the standings.”

Both hockey games this weekend are slated to begin at 7 p.m. at Starr Rink.