FAIRFIELD, Conn. — For a team that has beaten two ranked opponents in a shortened first half, including a dominant 6-1 victory over Yann Danis and Brown, you might never guess that Colgate is struggling to keep above .500.
But at 6-6-2 coming into this weekend’s action, the Raiders desperately needed to finish the first half on a high note. Although Friday’s game against Sacred Heart wasn’t for league points, it was an opportunity to take a winning record into the break.
“All week long we had one number in mind. We said one number in practice, and it was 7,” said Colgate coach Stan Moore.
And while he might have been talking about the Raiders pulling above .500 with their seventh win, he couldn’t have known just how often the number would sneak up in this game.
First, Colgate skated circles around the Pioneers en route to a 7-2 victory in the Arena at Harbor Yard. It was the first time the Raiders have been able to notch seven in a contest this season. More importantly, seven different goalscorers had a hand in the victory.
After an uneventful first period with both teams only generating eight shots, the Raiders stormed out of the gates in the second period to earn a 4-0 lead. The first seven minutes of the frame saw a manageable 1-0 lead balloon into a 4-0 cushion.
“Tonight the effort was definitely there for us,” said Moore. “It’s just a case of us believing in ourselves and what we can do. A game like tonight certainly helps.”
One of the lone bright spots for Sacred Heart was wearing the number 7 jersey. Garrett Larson, despite getting out to a slow start, remains one of the Pioneers’ top threats.
“Garrett does a lot of things we need to do to be in a winning hockey team,” said Sacred Heart coach Shaun Hannah. “Although he hasn’t had luck putting the puck in the net so far, being able to pop one in tonight could give him the momentum needed for a big second half. The difference for Garrett this year is that his number 7 is a big target when he’s on the ice.
The junior forward made a nifty move, sliding the puck to the backhand, faking goaltender David Cann out of his shorts, and depositing the puck into an empty net to cut the lead to 4-1, the closest Sacred Heart would get.
Yet, the goal of the night came from Dave Thomas and the Raiders. Chasing down a flip into the zone, Thomas pushed a loose puck through a defender’s leg, carried across the crease freezing goaltender Kevin LaPointe, and neatly tucked the biscuit through the keeper’s legs to put Colgate ahead 2-0.
Colgate cruised to victory from there on out with Cann seeing little rubber for the rest of the evening. He made 12 saves for his second victory of the year. His counterpart, LaPointe, made 27 saves including several jaw-droppers, but he could only prevent so many goals on his own.
Hannah said, “It certainly wasn’t a case of effort of preparation. We look at every non-conference game as an opportunity to prove ourselves, to make a statement for our team and our league. The boys were fired up tonight but we just ran into a better team.”
Colgate will take lucky number 7 into the break and gear up for second half action while Sacred Heart will look to redeem itself at UConn’s Holiday Tournament in two weeks.