HAMILTON, N.Y. — Darryl McKinnon’s second goal of the season — and the game — midway through the third period proved to be the game winner, as Colgate held on to beat Princeton 4-3 on Friday night.
McKinnon, who had been a healthy scratch only a week before, responded to his coach’s challenge, netting the first and last goals of the game.
“The kid responded like you hope a guy would when he doesn’t play,” said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan. “He was the MVP of the game tonight. When he’s fresh like he was tonight, he’s capable of doing a lot of things. He’s not the strongest guy in the locker room, but he’s got the biggest heart, and sometimes that can carry you.”
Princeton was forced to play catch-up for most of the night, as Colgate never fell behind for the entire 60 minutes. McKinnon put his team ahead in the first period with a strong one-timer over the right shoulder of Tiger goalie Nate Nomeland. Raider scoring leader Scooter Smith then gave Colgate its first two goal lead of the season when he tucked a slap shot neatly inside the left post.
“Scooter’s been playing great,” said Vaughan. “He’s been our most consistent forward, without question. He’s really leading the way on the ice and in the locker room. I’m pleased for him that he’s playing so well in his senior season.”
Princeton got one back at the end of the first period with a power-play goal. A long slap shot from defenseman Seamus Young redirected off of freshman Dustin Sproat’s skate and past a startled Raider goalie Steve Silverthorn.
“He had a very good game,” said Tiger head coach Len Quesnelle of Sproat. “He’s getting better with each game, which is going to be the process for this team with a bunch of young guys.”
Patrick Neundorfer evened the score at 2-2 early in the second period. The Tigers dominated the middle period, out-shooting the Raiders 13-4 and creating most of the scoring chances. Despite the advantage in play, Princeton was only able to outscore Colgate 2-1, leaving the game tied at 3-3 entering the third period.
“We created plenty of chances for ourselves,” said Quesnelle. “I would have liked to see a couple more of those go into the net, but we were handcuffed in front of the net. We had opportunities, and in this league you have to bury those opportunities.”
“We dodged a huge bullet in the second,” said Vaughan. “They really took it to us. I was just pleased that we were tied and still in the game.”
Kyle Doyle’s power play tally gave the Raiders a brief 3-2 advantage, but Mike Patton’s nifty rebound goal quickly evened the score.
Colgate responded in the third period by pulling a domination act of their own. The Raiders outshot the Tigers 10-3, and Silverthorn made important saves near the end of the game to preserve his first career ECAC victory.
“He didn’t make all the saves, but he made the right ones. ” said Vaughan, “He made a huge save near the end of the game to keep it at a one goal advantage for us. He’s done that, and that is all you can ask from your goaltender.”
Princeton (0-3-0, 0-1-0 ECAC) is still looking for its first win of the season. A daunting task lies in the immediate future, as they must upset nationally ranked Cornell tomorrow to salvage a win this weekend.
“This game really stings,” said Quesnelle. “I thought we played hard for the most part. When you’re tied on the road heading in to the third period, you’re looking for your team to step up, and we got outshot and outchanced. Heading to Cornell is a big test for us. We’re playing against a team that we haven’t beaten up at Cornell in quite some time. So the challenge for this group is to put this one aside and get ready for tomorrow.”
Colgate (4-3-1, 1-0-0) hosts Yale tomorrow afternoon to complete a weekend series that they will duplicate in the last two games of the regular season this spring.