HAMILTON, N.Y. — It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t smooth, but Colgate rode special-teams play to a 5-1 victory over visiting Sacred Heart on Friday.
Junior Zac Tataryn, who returned to the ice this season after a year away from the game, assisted on the Raiders’ game-winning goal and scored the final tally of the contest in the third period, bringing his two-game total to three points on the young campaign.
“Zac played great,” said Colgate (5-1-0, 0-0-0 ECACHL) head coach Don Vaughan. “Last week he got his feet wet after a year off, and we just know he’s going to continue to get better. He brings a lot of energy to the game. He took a penalty because I think he had a little bit too much energy. But he’ll settle down.”
Tataryn intercepted a Sacred Heart (3-2-0, 3-0-0 AHL) clearing feed in the high slot and flicked a wrist shot past Pioneer goalie Jason Smith, giving Colgate its second five-goal game of the year.
“Their defense made a bad play and passed it right to me,” he said. “I was one-on-one with the goalie, and I shelved it. I knew he was going to go down, so I put it top glove.”
Tataryn showed quickness throughout the night, outracing defenders to loose pucks and spreading the Pioneer defense thin. His aggressive play led to an ill-advised penalty as well, as the Ottawa native chased every puck and hit forcefully.
“I get to the rink about two or three hours before and I just get really, really mad,” said Tataryn. “When I get on the ice I have no lack of energy. I’m pretty much furious on every shift.”
Of course, Tataryn merely joined the parade to the penalty box. Referee Jeff Fulton whistled 18 different players on 23 minor calls, issuing 19 power-play opportunities and 46 minutes in penalties.
“We’re still all getting used to it,” said Vaughan. “It’s a learning experience. Some guys are calling it tighter than others. There wasn’t a lot of flow early on, but I think the guys got used to it as the game wore on.”
The choppy play only encouraged Tataryn, who sees his opportunities in the future multiplying thanks to current officials’ practices.
“It breaks up the flow, but it’s good for the little guys like me,” he said. “It takes out the clutching and grabbing, and eventually the game’s going to be better.”
Colgate’s special teams played a key role in their four-goal victory. The Raiders clicked with the man advantage, scoring three times on nine opportunities. Scoring leader Mike Campaner, tri-captain Darryl McKinnon, and the school’s first-ever scholarship athlete, Marc Fulton, each found twine on the power play, posting the home team to a 3-0 advantage. Meanwhile, Colgate’s penalty kill refused Sacred Heart a power play goal in 10 chances.
“I’m very happy about our penalty kill,” said Vaughan. “That’s something we worked a lot on this week. For me, it’s about taking pride in it and having the confidence that you know you’re going to kill it off.”
The Raiders even scored a goal while down a man, as defenseman Joey Mormina blocked a cross-ice pass and tapped the rolling rubber past a sprawled Smith. The shorthanded tally marked Colgate’s fourth of the season, equaling its total from all of last season.
“He had actually stepped up a few seconds before that to break things up, and when they tried to go back at him again he stepped up again. The puck just bounced in front of him, and only a guy with about a 20-foot wingspan like he has scores that goal. It was a great goal and a very important goal.”
Sacred Heart managed to get on the board only once, when Rocco Molinaro roofed a perfectly-placed shot past Colgate netminder Steve Silverthorn. The Pioneers generated multiple chances, especially in the third period. Silverthorn turned aside multiple Sacred Heart rushes, including making three consecutive rebound saves without a stick.
“I think we maybe play down to the other team’s level sometimes,” said Tataryn. “Not to take any credit away from Sacred Heart… they were a lot better than I thought they were going to be. But if we play like that against Brown and Harvard next weekend, we’re going to have some problems.”
Sacred Heart, which entered the night’s contest on a three-game winning streak, hopes to relocate that magic at Cornell on Saturday. Meanwhile, Colgate plays host to the Cadets before beginning league play against the Bears and the Crimson next weekend.