Last weekend, the Colgate men’s hockey team made a statement both to ECAC Hockey and the college hockey world as a whole: It will be a tough team to beat throughout the remainder of the year.
On Friday evening, the Raiders hosted the last unbeaten team in the country, 12th-ranked Dartmouth. Colgate mounted an incredible comeback to attain a 5-4 victory over the visiting Big Green.
On Saturday, the Raiders faced the Harvard Crimson, fresh off a morale-boosting 4-1 victory at archrival Cornell. Saturday’s contest was a defensive affair, as Colgate only needed a single goal to defeat the Crimson 1-0.
Senior Robbie Bourdon and first-year goaltender Spencer Finney were the stars of the weekend, with Bourdon posting his first career hat trick on Friday, which included the game-winning goal. Finney earned his first career victories, playing the third period of Friday’s game and earning the blank sheet on Saturday. The efforts earned Bourdon the ECAC Hockey Player of the Week Award and Finney both the ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Week and Rookie of the Week Awards.
“I have to say getting the hat trick at such an important moment feels great,” said Bourdon. “With that said it was an amazing team win that had every line rolling. From the front-end to the back-end everyone wanted that win and we didn't give up until we got it.”
Friday’s first period was an even affair.
Both teams had quality scoring chances, yet the two goaltenders, junior Eric Mihalik for the Raiders and Cab Morris for Dartmouth, put on a goaltending clinic, stopping every shot that came their way. After the first 20 minutes of play, Colgate had a slight advantage in shots of goal at 11-9.
The Big Green largely dominated the second stanza.
Dartmouth outshot the Raiders 16-6, and this time it was able to convert on its chances. Dustin Walsh opened the scoring at 14:47 to give the Big Green a 1-0 lead. Brad Schierhorn and Tyler Sikura scored within 49 seconds of each other at 16:14 and 17:03 to give Dartmouth what looked like a commanding 3-0 lead. Bourdon scored his first of the night assisted by fellow senior Kurtis Bartliff at 18:59 to pull the Raiders within two at the end of the second period.
Early in the third frame, the rest of the game did not bode well for Colgate when Eric Robinson scored 71 seconds in to give the Big Green a 4-1 lead.
That goal seemed to have put a spark in the Raiders, as the rest of the period belonged completely to Colgate. Senior tri-captain Jeremy Price put the Raiders back within two goals with a goal at 8:39, assisted by rookie Tylor Spink.
A little less than three minutes later, Bourdon scored his second of the contest to make the score 4-3 off assists from sophomore Joe Wilson and Bartliff. With a little over two minutes to play, it was Wilson who scored the tying goal off assists from Bourdon and rookie Ryan Johnston.
The highlight of the evening and weekend, however, came in the dying seconds of the contest.
When it seemed as if overtime was all but a certainty, Bourdon capped off a career night, scoring a diving goal with three seconds left in the game, giving his team an amazing 5-4 victory.
We were actually playing great hockey all game until we had a bad five-minute lapse in the second period which any good team will take advantage of, as Dartmouth did. Coach Vaughan changed a few things and you could see it in everyone’s eyes that there was no way we would go down without a fight.
The following evening Colgate made a statement of a different nature. The Raiders showed that as much as they were capable of scoring in bunches and winning high-scoring games, they were also able to buckle down defensively and shut down opponents when necessary.
The first period of the contest was well played by both teams.
At 13:15, Price scored what would turn out to be the only tally of the contest, assisted by Wilson and Bourdon. After 20 minutes of play, Harvard had outshot Colgate 9-7. The small amount of shots taken in the period is a tribute to the defensive prowess shown by both squads early on and throughout the entire game.
Despite lacking goals, the second stanza proved to be equally entertaining. The two teams battled hard and were physical, which translated into penalties being called on both the Crimson and the Raiders, including five-minute majors and game misconducts granted to both.
The third frame consisted of Harvard desperately trying to get on the scoreboard, while Colgate worked on holding the lead it had built early on in the game. In the end the Raiders’ defensive effort and Finney’s stellar job in net prevailed, and Colgate completed the weekend sweep.
“We showed on Friday night that we can score quickly and in bunches, and on Saturday we showed we can also be strong on the defensive side of the game,” Bourdon said. “Our rookie goalie played outstanding, and we truly showed that we can be a force in the league.”
The now 6-6-1 Raiders will take a quick break from conference play and travel to North Andover, Massachusetts where they will visit the Merrimack Warriors this Friday at 4 p.m.
I think our team is starting to show our true potential as chemistry is beginning to form between the different lines and we’re becoming more of a unit of one. As for Merrimack they are a strong hockey team, especially at home. If we play a full 60-minute hockey game and keep moving in the right direction, I think we will enjoy the results of Friday’s game.
The contest will be broadcasted live nationally on FCS Pacific and locally on WBIN-TV.