HAMILTON, N.Y. — For the second straight year Colgate welcomed a Dartmouth team that bounced it from the playoffs the year before, but this time, it got some revenge.
Friday night the Raiders upset the Big Green, 3-1, as Darryl McKinnon’s goal with less than two minutes remaining broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Raiders their third straight victory. The junior’s redirection of a Mike Campaner wrist shot was his second consecutive game-winning tally after scoring a similar goal against Union a week before.
“It was almost a mirror image of last week,” said McKinnon. “Camp had that puck at the point and shot, and I just got lucky enough to get my stick on it.”
The goal came as no surprise to Raiders head coach Stan Moore, whose sixth sense may have kicked in at the right time.
“It’s a crazy thing,” he said. “I watched the puck go into the zone and I said, ‘Darryl’s gonna score.’ I have no idea why I thought it, I have no idea why it came into my mind, because I rarely do that.”
The game was tightly contested throughout the night, with neither team generating many quality chances. McKinnon’s deflection goal therefore seemed a fitting goal for such a grinding contest.
“It always seems to be the way in that type of game,” said McKinnon. “It’s always a tip or a bad bounce on net. We fought hard and just got lucky this time.”
Luck sided with Dartmouth at the beginning of the game when, despite being outshot and frequently outplayed, got the first goal from Nathan Szymanski. Lee Stempniak fought for two clean shots on Raiders netminder Steve Silverthorn before Szymanski banged home the loose puck.
“We made a pretty big mistake on that goal,” said Moore. “We left a big gap for the shooter, we let the shooter get another chance, and then two players completely ignored the rebound guy. We’ve done a lot all year to make the enemy us, but we recovered and save for one other bevy did a pretty good job of keeping the game stable.”
Colgate, which entered the game 0-5-2 when allowing the first goal of a game, evened the score with less than a minute remaining in the opening period. Raiders scoring leader Jon Smyth backhanded a rebound past a diving Dan Yacey for his 13th goal of the season.
Dartmouth’s power play, ranked eighth in the nation, received a golden opportunity just a minute into the second period. A slashing call on Paul Kelley gave the Big Green a two-man advantage for over a minute, but they failed to slip the puck across the line.
“We talked all week about staying out of the box because we knew Dartmouth and Vermont both had a strong power play,” said McKinnon. “We did a good job outside of that five-on-three, but we got a lot of momentum off of that.”
The rest of the game remained tight, as neither team ceded much room in their own zones. Dartmouth held Colgate to a mere 14 shots in the final two periods, while managing only 10 of their own. As the clock wound under two minutes, it appeared neither team would crack.
“Patience is a big part of this game,” said Moore. “This is the way hockey is played at the collegiate level. It’s close, it’s tight; you have to keep your head up and have poise. One of the things you try to cultivate in your players is having poise.”
Standing poised throughout the night was Colgate goaltender Steve Silverthorn. The reigning ECAC goaltender of the week picked up his third consecutive one-goal game en route to his 10th win of the season.
Following the McKinnon goal, Dartmouth had over 90 seconds to even the score. But a faceoff in the neutral zone went awry when Raider Adam Mitchell slapped the puck directly into the empty Big Green net off of the draw, solidifying the home team’s victory.
“Mitchell made a big play,” said Moore. “Not to be boisterous or cocky, but he asked [assistant coach Andrew Dixon] for that faceoff. He told Robbie [Brown] ‘I’m going to end it right now,’ and he did.”
With the victory Colgate has now gone 5-1-1 in its last seven games and 7-2-1 in its last 10 outings, and another victory against Vermont tomorrow night could vault the Raiders as high as second in the ECAC. Moore refuses to let his guard down, however, despite the streak of solid play.
“We want to give ourselves the best opportunity to advance in the league by taking care of our home games. As far as the roll goes, I guess we’ll let the season play out before I comment on what kind of roll we’re on,” Moore said.
Dartmouth dropped only its second league game of the season, but now must travel to Cornell which holds a 65-35-2 advantage in the two teams’ history. Head coach Bob Gaudet was unavailable for comment following the loss.