Men’s Hockey Ties Army, Beats Niagara

Last weekend the Colgate men’s hockey team played their last two games before entering ECAC play. The weekend was a success overall, as the Raiders tied Army on Friday night 4-4 and defeated Niagara University 4-2 on Saturday. First-year defenseman Jeremy Price scored his first collegiate goal, and senior Jason Williams scored his first of the year. Sophomore forward Austin Smith led the team with four points in the two games, contributing two goals and two assists.

“It always feels nice to get the monkey off the shoulders, no matter how the goal goes in, so it was nice to finally get that out of the way,” Williams said. “Hopefully now I won’t put so much pressure on myself, and I will be able to play more consistent hockey throughout the year and into ECAC play. I want to play hard every game and contribute to the team, if it be scoring or assisting on a goal or laying a big hit or killing penalties. Every player has a role, and when we each play our role on the team, it produces wins.”

On Friday night Colgate came out strong, playing an energized style of hockey and taking their opponent by surprise. The Raiders peppered the Black Knights’ goaltender with countless shots, but was not able to solve him until the last minute of the first period. Price scored the first goal of the evening, assisted by first-year forward Kurtis Bartliff and junior forward François Brisebois.

The second frame of the game saw a slow start from Colgate, and Army took advantage of it. Just 28 seconds into the period the Black Knights scored a four-on-three power play goal to tie the game at one. The goal seemed to wake the Raiders up, as less than two minutes later, at the 1:49 mark of the period, Williams scored off a rebound. Senior co-captain Ethan Cox, the perpetrator of the original shot, was credited with the first assist, while first-year Robbie Bourdon had the second assist. Less than six minutes later, however, at the 7:16 mark of the period, the U.S. Military Academy once again tied the game to knot the score at 2-2. It would take a little less than eight minutes for the boys from Hamilton to take their third lead of the game. Junior assistant captain Brian Day scored his team-leading fourth goal of the year on the power play assisted by senior co-captain David McIntyre and Smith. Two minutes later the visiting team knotted the game at three, ending the period with a tied score.

In the third period of the game, the Raiders once again came out of the gate with power, controlling and moving the puck well. Therefore, it came as no surprise when Colgate took its fourth and final lead of the game at the 6:49 mark of the period, when sophomore forward Nick Prockow scored off assists by Bartliff and first-year Mike Leidl. The Raiders’ fourth goal seemed to inspire their opponents, as the Black Knights played their best hockey of the game down the wire and were rewarded with the final goal of the game at the 17:22 mark. Neither team was able to do the other harm despite several chances on power plays in the overtime period.

“Going into the third we felt pretty good as a team,” Williams said. “Once again, we were going into the third period with the lead, so of course we all felt confident about our chances of winning. We found ourselves in penalty trouble and one after another tends to take the momentum away from us. Although that was the case, we were able to battle hard and ended up with a tie. In the locker room it was good to see that we were all disappointed in the tie and actually felt like we had lost.”

On Saturday night, the Raiders played with inspiration. They showed determination against a strong and fast team from Niagara University. Colgate outplayed the Purple Eagles in the first period, but they were unable to put the biscuit in the basket. The only goal of the period came in its dying seconds, when a Niagara skater got a short-handed breakaway and managed to put the puck past senior goaltender Charles Long.

The Raiders came out fighting in the second period, desperate to tie the game. It took them a while, but they finally did it at the 7:39 mark of the period, when Smith scored his first goal of the night, assisted by McIntyre and sophomore Kevin McNamara. The Purple Eagles regained the lead a little over three minutes later, scoring their second and last goal of the night. After a few minutes of Niagara’s lead, Colgate’s Prockow scored his second goal of the weekend, off assists by Smith and sophomore defenseman Corbin McPherson. With twenty minutes still left to play, the game was knotted at two.

Colgate dominated the final frame of the game. The Raiders outshot Niagara 17-8 in the period and kept them off the scoreboard, while they scored two goals themselves. The third goal of the evening came at the 6:50 mark, when Smith scored off a faceoff. The goal, which proved to be the game-winner, was assisted by McIntyre and first-year Thomas Larkin.

“The goal was scored off a faceoff,” Smith said. “McIntyre won a battle down low and walked the puck to the net. I realized he had a one on one, and I know with his skill, that all I had to do was find some open ice behind the defense and he would hand me the puck. He faked a shot, and quickly passed it across the slot, and I was there to bang home the one timer. McIntyre draws a lot of attention on the ice, so all I need to do is get open, and I know he will make the play.”

The Raiders scored an insurance goal with a little over four minutes left on the power play. It was Colgate’s second power play goal of the weekend, this time scored by Brisebois and assisted by Bartliff and Prockow. The final score of the game was 4-2 for the Raiders, making it their first win by more than one goal since a 3-1 win at Clarkson on January 30.

“Our team came out desperate to win on Saturday,” Smith said. “Saturday night we played with a sense of urgency, and with a positive attitude. We are at our best when we work hard and use our speed. The biggest difference was that we played like we wanted to win, and we are finally making that leap forward.”

Tomorrow night, Colgate will open ECAC Hockey play when they host the Harvard Crimson at Starr Rink. The Raiders will then face the Dartmouth Big Green in a Saturday afternoon tilt.

“Heading into ECAC play this weekend, as a team we should feel pretty confident even though we have let a few games slip away,” Williams said. “We all know that when we stick to our systems and style of play, we are a very tough team to beat. We need to continue to do the little things and be able to stay out of the penalty box in crucial moments of the game. Harvard and Dartmouth are both good teams and we need to be ready to play physical because the speed of the game is going to increase with the start of ECAC play. We are all fighting to be on top of the league and what better way to do that than to start it against the Ivy teams. It’s exciting to get ECAC play started.”

Friday night’s game is slated for a 7 p.m. start, while Saturday’s will begin at 4 p.m.