HAMILTON, N.Y. — Colgate rode the back of its goaltender all the way to its first weekend sweep of the season, as the Raiders finished off the Union Dutchmen 4-1 at Starr Rink on Saturday.
Raider netminder Steve Silverthorn fended off 29 shots and allowed only one goal for the second straight night, impressing opposing head coach Nate Leaman.
“We had good second-chance opportunities, but [Silverthorn] was saving them,” said the first-year coach. “Even in the last minute when they had scored their empty-netter he was still making saves on point-blank shots.”
The junior earned his ninth victory of the year and now boasts a 1.93 goals against average to go along with a .923 save percentage. His solid play of late does not come completely unexpected from his coaches.
“His work ethic has always been part of why he plays so well,” commended Raider head coach Stan Moore. “He really wants to compete and he works at trying to play better all the time. He has the attitude that a goalie can win games, and he stated that to us in our meetings about a week and a half ago.”
Union (7-12-4, 2-8-2 ECAC) lurked in the offensive zone throughout the night, out-shooting the home team and generating multiple second chances. A slow start sent them chasing early, however, as Raider Mike Campaner’s first career goal put the Dutchmen behind by a goal after the first period.
“We just didn’t finish,” said Leaman. “I thought we played very hard. We weren’t ready for the first ten minutes and it cost us a goal. I guarantee that our guys would want those ten minutes back.”
Colgate (11-8-3, 6-4-0 ECAC) extended its lead midway through the second period when Darryl McKinnon redirected a Campaner wrist shot high to the stick side of Dutchmen netminder Kris Mayotte. The member of Colgate’s large junior class would later add an empty net tally for his first two-goal game of the year.
“Every year you play hockey you always learn things and get better,” said McKinnon. “I as well as a lot of my teammates have improved this year, and you’re seeing the results.”
Down 2-0 early in the third period, Union refused to pack it in. Jason Visser’s long wrist shot found a hole and beat a screened Silverthorn for a Dutchmen power-play goal, slicing the Raiders’ lead in half.
“We’re outplaying teams,” asserted Leaman. “We outplayed Brown and tonight we outplayed Colgate. It’s going to be a matter of us getting the bounces. We’ve got to keep working hard to find our way out of it.”
The Raiders used a bounce to put the game out of reach when Adam Mitchell picked a floating puck out of the air and knocked it to the ice and just out of the reach of a sliding Mayotte.
Union failed to muster another comeback, and settled for it’s thirteenth game of scoring 2 goals or fewer and its twelfth straight contest without a victory.
“We’re just a team right now that’s averaging one goal a game,” lamented Leaman, “and you’re not going to win many games averaging one goal a game. We’ve got to find ways to score and keep working.”
Colgate coach Moore also left the game slightly dissatisfied, as his team once again committed more penalties than their opponent and once again was forced to rely heavily on its backstop.
“Certainly a win is a win, and I’m glad about that,” said Moore, “but I still think there’s much better play left in us. If you take a look again at the play of Steve Silverthorn, we had to call on him too many times to pull us out of the fire.”
The victory sprung the Raiders to seventh in the conference with games at hand on many of its opponents, however, and put them back in the hunt for a high playoff seed at the end of the season.
“It was necessary,” said McKinnon on the weekend sweep of Rensselaer and Union. “We needed all four points. We want to be in the top four teams and we’d love to finish first. That’s our goal.”
Colgate gears up for another home ECAC weekend, as they welcome Dartmouth and Vermont next week. Meanwhile the Dutchmen will take a break from league play and will host Sacred Heart next Friday night.