HAMILTON, N.Y. — No one saw it coming, because no one had seen it before. Army, with a winless coach, a winless goaltender, and a program which had never won in Starr Rink in 13 tries, knocked off Colgate 3-2 on Saturday night to erase every one of those blemishes.
Goaltender Treye Kettwick, who is filling in for injured Brad Roberts until December, earned his first career victory in his fourth start, turning aside 29 shots. The sophomore stole the show and the victory for the visiting Black Knights.
“We certainly had our opportunities, but I thought the best player on the ice was their goaltender,” said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan. “He made some huge stops. We had a lot of chances and some great shots, and they seemed to be right into him. He was on his angles and he made some big saves.”
“Unbelievable,” added Army head coach Brian Riley. “Here’s a guy who had hardly seen any playing time in his first year, and to be thrust into a situation where he went up against RPI, Cornell, and Colgate, he put us in a position to win this game. Without him, we don’t win this game.”
Riley, the third in a long line of Rileys to have paced behind Army’s bench, looked on as his players celebrated their first victory of the season and the first of his young career. The victory could hardly have come in finer fashion, toppling an opponent who they had never defeated on the road.
“It’s great for the players,” said Riley. “As a coach, I look at how hard the guys worked in the preseason, and to see their smiles and hear them yelling in the locker room is very rewarding for me as a coach.”
“It was an unbelievable experience,” said Kettwick. “We know Colgate, as an ECAC team, is a pretty good team, and we knew we were the underdog. But we came out flying, held with them in the first period, and knew we could play with them. It was the highlight of the season so far.”
Colgate (5-2-0, 0-0-0 ECACHL) managed only one goal past Kettwick in that opening frame, despite out-shooting the visitors 12-2. Marc Fulton notched his fourth power-play goal of the season, and the only one for the Raiders in six attempts on the evening.
“We have to continue to work on our power play,” said Vaughan. “We have to understand that you score your power-play goals because you have an extra guy on the ice. 85 percent of your power-play goals are scored because you throw the puck at the net and they don’t have someone to cover an extra guy for a rebound. We had great puck possession, but we didn’t bang in rebounds.”
Army’s (1-3-1, 0-1-1 AH) Seth Beamer responded with a power-play goal of his own midway through the second period. The team’s captain redirected a Corey Rudd slap shot past Colgate netminder Mark Dekanich, who stopped 10 shots in his first career start between the pipes.
“It’s tough for a goalie when he doesn’t have a whole lot of work,” said Vaughan of his freshman netminder. “He stands back there and gets cold. They threw a couple threw screens and off sticks, and all of their goals were deflected in. What are you going to do?”
Colgate captain Adam Mitchell provided his team yet another one-goal lead later in the second period. But the home squad failed to add to their lead, carrying the slim margin into the locker room at the second intermission.
“Coming into this game, we knew it was going to be a big challenge,” said Riley. “Any time we go on the road we’re just trying to make it a 20 minute game. Certainly when it was 2-1 Colgate heading into the third period, we thought we were in a good position.”
Sure enough, the Black Knights hit the ice hard in the third period and pulled the game from the grasp of the Raiders. David Andros scored a highlight reel goal when he lifted the puck through a puck-sized hole between Dekanich’s shoulder and the crossbar, tying the game at 2-2. Luke Flicek later scored the game-winner, sending a long wrist shot off of the arm of a Colgate defender and into the back of the net.
“I gave up a weak goal in the second,” said Kettwick, “but I thought I played pretty good and my team was able to come back and score some big goals in the third. They picked me up and won the game.”
The Raiders, hunched over their sticks, stood stunned as Army celebrated its come-from-behind victory. Vaughan’s club hopes to improve as league play begins next weekend against Harvard and Brown.
“We had some big breakdowns in our own end, and they capitalized on them,” said Vaughan. “We’ll look at the tape, and hopefully it motivates us to play better next weekend. We’ve got to play better, and we’ve got to do it quickly.”
Meanwhile, Army, having lost to Cornell 7-1 the previous night, took a positive note back with them to West Point, expecting the weekend to prove valuable in preparation for upcoming league games against Mercyhurst and Canisius.
“We just wanted to be a better team tonight than we were last night,” said Riley. “That’s one of the great things about coaching the Cadets. They will always give you a hard-working effort. So I never doubted that they would come out here and be ready to play. Last night was a great learning experience, as was tonight, and they’ll make us a better team.”