HAMILTON, N.Y. — By the end of the night, Colgate had outscored St. Lawrence 4-3 — for the weekend, that is. The Raiders edged out a 2-1 Sunday win over the Saints in Game 3 to advance in the ECAC playoffs.
Colgate (21-11-5, 14-6-2 ECAC) and St. Lawrence (14-21-6, 7-12-3) engaged in another hard-checking contest at Starr Rink, surrendering few offensive chances while waiting for rare cracks in their opponent’s systems. With both teams having scored a combined total of four goals entering the game, the style of play shocked no one.
“I don’t think anyone was surprised about the type of game that was played tonight,” said Raiders head coach Stan Moore. “The series was so tightly contested that it was very rare to see a loss of focus on either side.”
The Raiders relied on open ice provided by a power play to tally the game’s first goal. Darryl McKinnon followed up his initial shot on St. Lawrence goaltender Mike McKenna and buried the rebound, handing Colgate its first power-play goal of the series.
“We worked harder to get the puck on the power play,” said Moore. “The execution that we worked on all year long was as good as it’s ever been, especially under the circumstances.”
The Saints responded less than a minute into the second period with a power-play tally of their own. After time had expired on a two-man advantage for St. Lawrence, Rich Peverley found a lane through four Colgate defenders and past screened netminder Steve Silverthorn to knot the game at 1-1.
“He was walking across and I was trying to find him,” said Silverthorn. “I couldn’t find him, and he put it on the blocker side. I have to find the puck there. That’s my fault.”
Peverley finished the season for St. Lawrence with 42 points, leading the club for his third straight year. Only four other players in the history of the Saints can claim such a feat.
“Peverley certainly distinguished himself in our record books,” said Marsh. “More importantly he did it on a team that was sort of in a rebuilding phase. He carried the bulk of the load. He’s a fun player to watch, and he’s developed a complete hockey game.”
St. Lawrence struggled generating quality chances throughout the second and third periods. One reason was the absence of goals leader T.J. Trevelyan, who suffered a concussion the night before.
“He’s our top goal scorer,” said Marsh. “Any time you take that ingredient out it breaks up all your lines. Trevelyan is a natural goal scorer. He finds seams and isn’t shy about shooting the puck.”
Silverthorn played a huge role in keeping the Saints off of the scoreboard as well. The junior logged 26 saves on the night, and finished the series allowing only three goals on 80 shots. Colgate extended its streak of allowing two goals or fewer to eight games, spanning over a month.
“Our team played amazing this weekend,” said Silverthorn. “Their team didn’t get many quality chances, and when they did we didn’t give up many second chances. Our team defense has picked up, and I owe them all the credit.”
Throughout the series neither team had earned a two-goal cushion, nor scored more than two goals. So even though Colgate defenseman Mike Campaner’s wrist shot past the blocker of McKenna found twine with 26 minutes remaining in the contest, the Raiders’ 2-1 lead held a sense of permanence.
“The kids really sensed that one goal was so significant,” said Saints head coach Joe Marsh. “Both goalies were fabulous in this series. You’d be hard-pressed to find better goaltending anywhere in the country this weekend.”
Campaner, one of only two freshmen on the ice for Colgate, took advantage of an expiring power play and sneaked off of the blue line and into the high slot, where he found room to beat a stingy McKenna.
“I’ve been practicing getting into shooting position this week,” said Campaner. “I got the puck and saw that there was space, so I let the shot go.”
The goal, part of a two-point night for the Thunder Bay, Ont., native, came as reward for his improved play throughout the year.
“The first half of the season was very rough for me,” said Campaner. “Now the game has slowed down for me, and I’ve started to realize I can play with these guys.”
True to the form of the entire series, Colgate clogged the neutral zone and stymied late efforts by the Saints to even the game.
“I really have liked this team since day one,” said Marsh. “We’ve worked real hard, and we played our best hockey here in the playoffs. I’m very proud of them, on the road in particular.”
Colgate will advance to the ECAC semifinals for the first time since 2000, when the team fell to Rensselaer. This time the Raiders will face Clarkson, which shut Colgate out 1-0 just two weeks ago. Colgate, which won the ECAC regular-season title for the first time since 1990, hopes to take home the tournament trophy for only the second time in school history.
“We haven’t accomplished anything yet,” said Silverthorn. “It’s not enough to get to Albany. We have to win Albany. That’s been our goal all year, and we feel confident we can win it all.”