HAMILTON, N.Y. — Down one goal midway through the third period, Colgate center Kyle Doyle won a clean faceoff directly to forward Adam Mitchell, who let go a high wrist shot.
The puck sailed past St. Lawrence goaltender Kevin Ackley’s glove and into the net for the game-tying goal, as the Raiders and Saints skated to a 4-4 draw at Starr Rink on Friday night.
Mitchell’s tally came just 13 seconds after St. Lawrence had gained its first lead since early in the first period, and marked the second time in three weeks that the Raiders salvaged a tie with the Saints.
“The game was a see-saw,” said St. Lawrence head coach Joe Marsh. “It was very similar to the game up at our place. I think we let one slip away up there. I said to the guys that sometimes a tie feels like a win, and sometimes it feels like a loss. At our place it felt like a loss, and here it kind of feels like a win. It’s a big point to get on the road.”
St. Lawrence (6-13-4, 3-6-2 ECAC) struck first five minutes into the first period. Colgate (8-12-3, 3-6-2) goaltender David Cann robbed Saint Rich Peverley with a quick glove save, but Simon Watson snuck free of his defender to power home the rebound to give his team an early edge.
But Colgate answered on its third straight power play of the first period. Joey Mormina flipped a failed clearing attempt towards the Saint net, where P.J. Yedon redirected the puck past Ackley for the early equalizer. It was the first of three extra-man conversions for the home team.
“When your team’s not scoring, you’ve got to find a way to manufacture goals,” said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan. “The best way to do that, in my opinion, is on the power play. It’s a bounce of the puck or getting the puck to the net. There’s often nothing pretty about them, but you’ve got to get the mindset to do that.”
The Raider power play kicked into full gear early in the second period. A Jim Hakewill high-sticking penalty gave Colgate a two-man advantage, and freshman Ryan Smyth’s first career goal handed his team its first lead of the night.
“He’s been playing really well,” said Vaughan, “but he’s been snakebitten. He was getting a little bit frustrated because he hadn’t scored. But I’ve always said that it starts with your work ethic first. He got one tonight, but it’s a result of a lot of hard work that he’s been putting out there over the last couple of weeks.”
With Hakewill still serving his penalty, ECAC leading scorer Scooter Smith redirected a Kyle Doyle centering pass high off of the crossbar and past Ackley for his 15th of the season and a two-goal cushion.
“Scooter’s been our best player since the beginning of the year,” said Vaughan. “He proved it again tonight, and he logged a lot of minutes. Every time he’s on the ice he’s a threat. He’s really been our leader in a lot of ways, both on and off the ice.”
Hakewill was later issued a five-minute major penalty for checking Raider defenseman Eric Main from behind, and was given a game misconduct for the hit as well. After having many players on the receiving end of such hits earlier in the year, Saints coach Marsh did not question the call.
“You absolutely have to call that, no question,” he said. “Jimmy’s not that kind of player. He went in pretty hard, and the other guy turned a little at the same time. You have to call that. This year alone we’ve had three players leave on a straight board with their necks immobilized, and one [Allie Skelley] was career-ending. So I can tell you right now that I’ll be the last one ever to question a call like that.”
St. Lawrence began to mount a comeback with a two-man advantage of their own. Just as the first penalty had expired, John Zeiler fired a rebound from a tough angle past Cann to cut the Raider lead to 3-2. Five minutes later Peverley found a puck along the boards, and with plenty of space in front of the net the winger negotiated Cann down and out and pocketed his seventh goal of the year.
“He’s been playing real well since the Christmas break,” said Marsh. “He’s really lit it up for us. He’s very skilled, has great hands, and has been playing with a lot of jump. At one point we moved him back to defense, and I think people were wondering what we were doing. But I think it reminded him how much he loved playing forward, and over the break he caught a second wind.”
Jack O’Brien gave the Saints a short-lived 4-3 advantage with a strong one-timer from the slot only a minute after Peverley’s notch. But Ackley, who faced 44 shots on the night, could not hold the lead, and the two teams settled for a tie.
“We really competed tonight, and that’s something that we’ve had some inconsistencies with in the past,” concluded Vaughan. “I thought tonight we came out and played hard. We threw a lot of rubber at the net, which we’ve been preaching. We got four goals, and we certainly could have had three or four more.”
On Saturday, the Raiders will host a Clarkson team that has given them problems recently. Meanwhile the Saints travel to face always-difficult Cornell.