HAMILTON, N.Y. — In a game filled with ups and downs, Connecticut’s Ron D’Angelo snap shot from between the circles with 1:22 left in overtime beat Colgate goaltender David Cann to the stick side and toppled the Raiders, 5-4, on Saturday.
The goal provided a fitting ending to the last-minute heroics that UConn exhibited in front of a hostile crowd. Down 4-3 with less than two minutes remaining in the third period, Tim Olsen trickled a puck past Cann and the goal line to give his teammate the chance to score the eventual game-winning goal.
Said UConn head coach Bruce Marshall, “For us, we had a bad weekend last week. To lose 10-1 [against Northeastern] was a tough loss. To stay in and have a chance in the third period, then lose a lead, and then regain the lead … you can build on these characteristics.”
The Huskies had built an early lead after dominating the first period. After Colgate’s Kyle Doyle scored the first goal of the game in the first period, the third straight time the Raiders have done so this season only to suffer defeat, UConn began to outwork their opponent.
“We were horrible in the first period,” said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan. “It’s the worst period we’ve played all year. We have a lot of guys on the rink right now that really have to look inside of themselves and ask themselves what they’re willing to do to play at this level.”
Eric Nelson and Kurt Kamienski scored the two UConn goals in the opening period, both of which came on the power play. Kamienski’s tally was part of a four-point night, including assists on both the game-tying and game-winning goals.
“He logs a lot of minutes,” said Marshall. “He’s a smart hockey player and puts pucks in safe areas. He’s an assistant captain, and he’s been a leader on this team through his work ethic and desire.”
The Raiders seemed to exorcise their first-period demons when Doyle recorded his second goal of the game in fluky fashion. A long slap shot from the blue line hit the skate of a UConn defender and ricocheted at a sharp angle into the net. The puck seemed to gravitate to the Huskie goal all night, as goaltender Jason Carey faced 43 shots in a winning effort.
“He played very well,” said Marshall. “There were some key stops from point-blank range that he stopped. I also think that we did a good job finding loose pucks after Carey made the initial save. We picked some sticks up and moved the puck to good areas.”
After regaining the lead early in the third period with yet another power-play goal, this time scored by D’Angelo, UConn watched their lead turn into a deficit. Colgate’s Dmitry Yashin scored on a wraparound goal, and assistant captain Scooter Smith one-timed a Yashin pass past Carey for what appeared to be a game-winning goal with just 1:20 left in the final period.
UConn refused to give up, however, and picked up their first win of the season. As for the Raiders, the loss marked their third straight single-goal loss and second in overtime this season. For Vaughan, however, this loss in front of an opening night crowd in Hamilton brought an added sting.
“You have to give UConn a lot of credit,” said Vaughan. “They outworked us at times and were very opportunistic, especially on the power play. I don’t understand why certain guys on our team will go out on opening night and not put the same kind of effort that they’ve put in to get to this point. You need everybody to play. You’re not going to carry the game with four or five guys. At home, opening night … that’s a game you have to win.”
The Huskies (1-2-0) hope to ride the energy gained from Saturday night’s game into their next matchup when they host Quinnipiac. The Raiders (0-3-0) plan to use this week to find ways to win against incoming Sacred Heart.
“You work on stuff all week in practice,” added an agitated Vaughan, “and it was the little things that hurt us tonight like staying with your check, picking your guy up on faceoffs and staying with your guy a little bit longer. We worked on these things all week in practice. All week. This week’s going to be all about work. Work.”