HAMILTON, N.Y. — The Colgate Raiders survived their seemingly never-ending parade to the penalty box to outlast the visiting Rensselaer Engineers, 3-1, at Starr Rink Friday night.
The undisciplined home team accumulated 19 penalties for a total of 46 minutes. Despite being provided with nine power plays, the Engineers (11-9-2, 6-4-1 ECAC) scraped together only one goal on the man advantage.
“We had a lot of opportunities on the power play, but we just didn’t bury it,” observed Rensselaer head coach Dan Fridgen. “I didn’t think we were particularly sharp, but power plays are very cyclical. Had we cashed in on a couple of early ones it would have been a different game with them coming from behind.”
Colgate goaltender Steve Silverthorn faced 17 power-play shots and 38 overall, but managed to pull his ninth-ranked goals against average down to an impressive 1.99 while leading his team to victory.
“Steve Silverthorn made a number of excellent saves, and that’s how we were able to get through it,” praised Raider coach Stan Moore. “I wouldn’t say we were convincing on our penalty kill. Steve did a great job of pulling us out of the fire when we needed it.”
It was the home team’s power play that stole the show. Colgate points leader Kyle Wilson kicked the game off when he initiated a give-and-go with teammate Ryan Smyth and tapped the return pass past Rensselaer netminder Nathan Marsters.
Then, following Nick Economakos’ sharp-angled goal early in the second period, the Raider power play responded again. This time Kyle Doyle’s wrist shot deflected off of an Engineer stick and over a startled Marsters to provide Colgate a slim 2-1 lead.
Rensselaer pressured Colgate (10-8-3, 5-4-0) all night and peppered its opponent’s net. They failed to generate many quality chances, however, and when opportunities arose the puck seemed to stand on edge or slide just out of reach.
“I thought we played well,” said Fridgen, “but there were a couple of bad bounces and we hit a couple of posts, and that was the difference in the game.”
Meanwhile, the Raiders took advantage of their timely bounces. A mere 25 seconds after Doyle’s tally, Dmitry Yashin batted a bounding puck out of the air and just past the goal line to provide a two-goal lead for Colgate.
“We know how RPI plays and we know they like to defend hard down low,” explained Moore. “So we know that second or third opportunities, screens, and tips are going to be important to us to give us a chance. Our two power-play goals were a rebound and a tip. Case in point.”
Silverthorn made the 3-1 edge stick, as he fended off 12 third period shots en route to his eighth victory of the year. The junior has now surrendered seven goals in his last 4 games, and boasts a .923 save percentage on the year.
“My game’s starting to improve a lot,” said the Owen Sound, Ont. native. “This is the most important part of the season for us since we’re 5-4 and battling for one of those top four spots. So it’s great that I’m improving as the season goes on, but I have a lot more improvement to go.”
The penalty-filled evening finished with a flurry when, following a scrum in front of the Engineer net, referee Jeff Fulton sent every single skater on the ice to the penalty boxes, forcing the players to cram into the now tight quarters. When the shavings settled, Fulton had issued game disqualifications to Colgate’s Dave Thomas and Rensselaer’s Blake Pickett which will keep them from tomorrow night’s action.
“Nate [Marsters]‘s got the puck and their guy took a run at him,” replied Fridgen when asked what his take on the last-minute breakdown had been. “If you’re going to initiate it, that’s what’s going to happen. I don’t think there was particularly good control from the start.”
Moore took an entirely different stance on the issue. “Shakespearian play: Much Ado About Nothing,” he put simply.
Both teams will regroup for further ECAC action this weekend. The Engineers must travel to always dangerous Lynah Rink where they have struggled against the Cornell Big Red. Meanwhile, the Raiders are set to host a Union Dutchmen team that has failed to record a victory in 11 games.
“This weekend is huge for us, because we felt we could beat both teams,” said a hopeful Silverthorn. “We’re down in the standings, but a lot of teams have games at hand on us. We need to get as many points as possible so we can catch back up.”