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College Hockey:
Raiders Falter in Opener After Late UNO Rally

— The Mavericks of Nebraska-Omaha trailed 3-2 going into the third period, but got goals from Andrew Wong, Jeff Hoggan and Aaron Smith to defeat the Colgate Raiders, 5-4, at Starr Rink.

Trailing 3-2 headed into the third, the Mavericks tied the game on the power play. The Mavericks had the puck deep in the Raider zone, and it came out of the corner towards Wong in the faceoff circle. Wong went for the puck, as did Colgate goaltender Jason LeFevre. LeFevre missed, Wong went around him and tucked it home.

The Mavericks (2-1-0) would take the lead 2:13 later as Hoggan took the puck from end to end. As Hoggan came through center ice, Tucker Veenis was wrapped all over him, but managed to weave his way over to his right and then cut back in front of LeFevre to deke him for the lead.

“Have you ever seen a prettier goal than Hoggie’s goal?” said UNO head coach Mike Kemp. “That was a big-time goal and he’s been doing that for us this year.”

The Raiders (0-1-0) would come back to tie it six minutes later. A Raider power play had just expired when Scooter Smith found the puck in the corner. He skated along the line and found a space between Dan Ellis’ pads for the tying goal.

With just 2:05 to play, the Mavericks regained the lead. With the puck deep, Smith tried to take a shot, but it was blocked. The rebound came back to him and he sent it to Wong who was on the end line. Wong threaded the needle and found Smith in front, where he roofed it over LeFevre for the lead and the win.

“It was a carbon copy of the goals that he’s scored this season already,” said Kemp. “Those two guys [Wong and Smith] have been working real well together this year. Wonger can find him if he gets open and he did that tonight.”

“I was pleased with the way we bounced back from the goals where they went ahead,” said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan. “But it’s never acceptable to lose like that. The one goal where the kid went coast-to-coast was a great play, you have to tip your hat to him on that.”

The game got underway quickly for Colgate, as the Raiders scored just nine seconds into the game. Bob Vandersluis worked his way in and his intial shot was blocked but came right to Steve Silversides. He blasted it from the top of the right circle over the left shoulder of Ellis for the 1-0 lead.

“You’re numb from that,” said Kemp about the goal. “You sit there and say, ‘That shouldn’t happen.’ The positive thing is that we knew we had more than 59 minutes to go and it certainly set us on our heels.”

The game then turned into a physical hitting affair, until the Mavericks tied it up.

Matt Nicholson seemingly had the puck at his own blueline, but gave it up to David Brisson, creating a two-on-one. Brisson quickly shuffled the puck to his right and flicked it to Hoggan, who one-timed it past LeFevre.

The Mavericks would then take the lead as Gus Groslie took a hard slap shot from the top of the left circle. LeFevre made the initial save, but the rebound popped out and Groslie followed his own shot up and tucked it past him.

“We were pretty physical in the first 10 minutes and then the table tilted,” said Vaughan. “We rode some adrenaline early on and then they took it to us pretty good. We knew we were going to have to feel our way around since this is our first game.”

But the Raiders would come back and tie it up. A short-lived two-on-one with P.J. Yedon and Dmitry Yashin would result in a Yashin shot off a Yedon pass. Ellis made the initial save, but the rebound was followed up by Ben Bryce. Bryce deked around a fallen Ellis for the goal.

The Raiders then took the lead late in the second period. The Mavericks couldn’t clear the puck along the boards and Kyle Doyle took control of the puck. He quickly sent the puck to Tucker Veenis. He softly wristed one that fooled Ellis over the right shoulder.

From there, the third period and the Maverick comeback ensued.

“It was a very, very good hockey game,” said Kemp. “Colgate came out and played real hard. They put us on our heels right off the bat and they came at us with an aggressive forecheck and were right in our face. They caused us a lot of problems.

“Last Friday we got lit up early and it really affected us and we never responded and never came back. We got out of our game plan and got desperate. Tonight we came through when things went awry for us early. We held our composure and perseverance and came through.”

Said Vaughan, “We had some rookie mistakes, but those are things we’ll have to iron out. It is our first game, but it’s still disappointing because we had an opportunity.

“I would have liked to come out of there with a tie, so that we could feel better about it, but we’ll learn from it.”

The two teams face each once again on Saturday evening to conclude the series.

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