BOSTON — Ladies and gentlemen, sisters have officially been kissed.
Saturday night’s 3-3 draw between the Northeastern Huskies and the Colgate Raiders left both teams stinging with what some call a “sister-kisser.”
“I feel good,” said Colgate coach Stan Moore, “or at least as good as the guys in the other locker room feel.”
Later, NU coach Bruce Crowder displayed his feelings about the game with one slip of the tongue.
“I think we played well enough to win the game, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “The thing for us, right now, is to stay positive. To me that was a very encouraging performance. I don’t think we lost the game because of — or tied the game because of a lack of skill or athleticism. That’s very encouraging.”
The season-opening matchup for both teams came on the heels of disappointing 2002 campaigns. Colgate, which finished below .500 last year, was picked eighth in the ECAC coaches poll, while Northeastern, the only team to miss the Hockey East playoffs a year ago, was picked eighth in the nine-team HE poll.
For both Moore and Crowder, the contest was a sign of good things to come.
“All told for us it was an opportunity to test ourselves and get a feel for where we needed to go back and do work,” Moore said. “Anytime you play this early in the season you’ll have some bugs to work out. But they played very, very hard and are very, very tired. In the scope of things, that’s really what you’re asking for.”
“It’s a start,” Crowder said. “I think it was very encouraging in a lot of areas that we saw, and we got a chance to look at six freshmen at this level. I think all six of them showed real well tonight. Obviously the win is what everyone wants, but at the same time we’ve got 33 left and I really like what I saw tonight.”
NU goalie Keni Gibson (25 saves) concurred.
“It could’ve gone either way,” he said. “It was a good game for us, it was a good game for them. I don’t think either team was consistent through the whole game, but there’s still a little summer hockey in everybody — myself included.”
Northeastern drew first blood on the power play 6:11 into the contest. Freshman defenseman Bryan Cirullo moved the puck to sophomore Mike Morris at the left face off circle, who fed it back to Cirullo who then hit junior Tim Judy for a one-timer just above the right faceoff circle.
After Judy’s blast gave NU the lead, the score remained knotted until less than two minutes remained on the first period clock.
With just 1:16 left in the opening frame, Colgate junior Darryl McKinnon collected a pass straight across the slot from Markham, Ont., native Jon Smyth and buried his own one-timer from 10 feet out to even the score.
NU didn’t take long to strike back. Five-foot, six-inch Jared Mudryk picked up the puck in front of the net during a scrum and deposited it into the net for NU’s second power-play score of the game just over a minute into period two.
Typical of the breakneck pace of the matchup, which saw the teams take a combined 57 shots on net, the Huskies and Raiders again traded goals in the following nine minutes.
At the 5:23 mark in the second period, Colgate’s Adam Mitchell found the net, sliding the puck snugly inside the left post along the ice after receiving a Kyle Wilson pass while just in front of the crease.
Four minutes later, Husky freshman Yale Lewis completed the first of two plays worthy of any highlight reel. Lewis batted a Raider clearing attempt out of midair at the CU blue line, took a few shaky strides towards net and buried a wrist shot past netminder David Cann (26 saves).
Wilson wasn’t about to be outdone, though. The London, Ont., native, one of six sophomores in the Raider lineup, potted the tying goal on a power play five minutes into the third period.