Photo credit: Scott Kinville/315 Hockey.
By Scott Kinville/315 Hockey.
A hockey season consists of ups and downs for programs at any level – from the NHL all the way down to youth hockey. The Colgate Raiders Men’s Hockey Team began in 1915 and in over 100 years of existence it has certainly seen its share of highs and lows.
Last Saturday night at the Class of 1965 Arena, the program experienced one of the ultimate highs of its lifetime, as the Raiders upset the number one team in the country Quinnipiac Bobcats by a score of 3-2. For the Colgate players, coaches, staff, and fans, the game was everything a hockey enthusiast could dream of. Not only did the underdog beat the overwhelming favorite (Colgate entered the game unranked in the national polls), it featured a comeback – as the Raiders were down 2-0 in the second period. A furious attempt by the Bobcats to tie the game in the closing minutes was thwarted by the defense and goaltender Carter Gylander – who turned aside a barrage of shots. Even the closing seconds weren’t without drama, as after the final horn sounded for the first time the referees convened over the video monitor and determined 1.4 seconds of play needed to be added back on the clock. With the puck sliding harmlessly into the boards in those 1.4 seconds the celebration could begin in what was one of the biggest wins in Colgate Head Coach Don Vaughan thirty year career behind the Raiders bench.
The veteran coach was obviously proud of his team after the game, saying:
“When I looked around our room after this game there were a lot of exhausted guys sitting there. That’s what you are supposed to feel like after a game like that. Quinnipiac is one of the best teams in the country and it takes the kind of effort we had tonight to beat that team. From Carter on we had a lot of second and third efforts. We could have easily had a letdown after hitting four pipes in the first and then falling behind. We had a game plan and stuck to it. I’m proud of our guys. It’s a great win for our group.”
After a 1-4 start, the Raiders now have an overall record of 12-10-2 and are 4-1-1 since returning from their end-of-semester break. They also have a record of 9-3-0 in the ECAC, their 25 points put them solidly in fourth place and only four points behind second-place Harvard with two games in hand. They have outscored their opponents in conference play by a 45-27 margin and 69-54 overall.
By all indications, Coach Vaughan’s Raiders are starting to jell at the right time. They are led on offense by forwards Alex Young, Matt Verboon, and Alex DiPaolo, while defenseman Nick Anderson drives the offense from the blue line. Young, a San Jose Sharks draft pick, has been a goal-scoring machine this season. His thirteen goals lead the ECAC, and eight of them have been on the power play which also leads the conference. Ross Mitton leads the teams in assists with fifteen and anchors the Raider’s penalty-killing units.
The Raider’s goaltending starts and ends with Carter Gylander. Although his 12-9-2 record may not be lofty, he has been outstanding this season. He has started all but one game for Colgate this season, and has a stat line as follows: GAA: 2.21 / Saves: 625 / Save Percentage: 0.925 / Shutouts: 2. He is tied for seventh in Division I in save percentage, tenth in minutes played and seventeenth in GAA.
As a team, the Raiders are near the top of the ECAC in all major categories. They are third in shots on goal and on the power play and fourth in goals scored per game, goals allowed per game, and on the penalty kill.
The road to the NCAA Tournament for the Raiders goes through the ECAC. They have ten games remaining in the regular season, and all are conference games. Included in the remaining games is a home-in-home series with the eleventh-ranked Cornell Big Red and a rematch with the tenth-ranked Harvard Crimson this Friday night. The Raiders stunned the then ninth-ranked Crimson at The Class of 1965 Arena on December 3rd by a score of 6-4 in their last game before the end of semester break.
With three games against ranked teams remaining on the schedule, Colgate’s road to the ECAC Tournament and beyond won’t be easy. The way the Raiders are playing right now, however, anything seems possible so why not Colgate?
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