HAMILTON, N.Y. — Sometimes it just can’t be explained.
Brown, after coming from behind to take a 2-1 lead on the road against Colgate and then stymieing its opponent for the better part of the third period, watched as the home team knotted the score late in the third and won in overtime, knocking off the Bears for the 12th time in 13 games, 3-2.
“At times we played well, and at times they played well,” said Brown coach Roger Grillo. “I thought it was a good college hockey game. Obviously we are disappointed that we couldn’t hold on to the lead at the end of the game. But I thought our guys played hard, and for the second game of the year I thought it was a pretty good game for us.”
The visiting Bears hoped to erase a streak of 11 straight seasons without a victory in Starr Rink. Brown (0-1-1, 0-1-1 ECACHL) played a nearly flawless game, fighting to what seemed to be its second straight third-period comeback and then shutting down the Colgate offense with a formidable neutral-zone trap.
“When they took the 2-1 lead, they played exactly the way you’d want your team to play,” said Colgate coach Don Vaughan. “They kept it simple, and they frustrated us. We tried to get it deep and they had their third guy back and all he had to do was chink it back out again. They were doing a really good job.”
It took a fluke goal off of the leg of Raider forward Dustin Gillanders to allow Colgate (6-2-0, 1-0-0) back into the contest. Defenseman Eric Main’s floating backhand attempt deflected off of Gillanders’ shin pads as he fought for position in front of the Bear net, bounding past goalie Scott Rowan.
“Dustin’s a big, strong player. We keep telling guys to just throw the puck to the net, and something will go in. Our two late goals were certainly a result of guys going hard to the net.”
Colgate collected its second overtime goal of the season off of the same stick that scored the first. Jon Smyth hacked at a one-timer set up thanks to a beautiful maneuver by forward Kyle Wilson. The puck rolled through traffic and into the net, sending the Raiders to their first league victory of the season.
“Kyle Wilson made a great play, and Jonny was ‘Johnny-on-the-spot,” said Vaughan. “It’s hard to score. Goalies are good, defense is better — it’s tough to score in college hockey. We’ve just been preaching to our guys that the way we’re going to get them is by going hard to the net.”
“It was a pretty ugly goal,” said Smyth. “[Wilson] made a great play to get out in front. I had a guy in front of me, and the best I could do was take a poke at it. Fortunately for us it rolled in.”
Referee Dan Murphy provided both teams with plenty of chances to keep the game from even reaching an extra frame. Both squads were given two-man advantages in the third period, with Colgate getting two chances at it early on and Brown receiving the 5-on-3 edge for the final 1:30 of regulation. Both clubs failed to capitalize, however, swinging the pendulum back and forth.
“It was a game of momentum swings,” said Vaughan. “That’s the way it’s been with penalties. Momentum usually comes after you kill penalties. The team that kills the power play off gets the edge.”
“There were obviously opportunities there for both teams to put the game away,” said Grillo. “Neither team could do it. I thought both goalies played well.”
Raider netminder Steve Silverthorn improved his season record to 6-1-0, stopping 24 shots on the night. Meanwhile, Rowan, who replaced graduating star Yann Danis, turned aside 26 in a losing effort. The senior, playing in only his fifth career game, only surrendered goals when screened, as in the last two tallies, and one to Colgate tri-captain Dave Thomas just as a Raider power play expired.
Meanwhile, Silverthorn’s nemesis throughout the night was last year’s ECAC Co-Rookie of the Year Brian Ihnacak. The sophomore potted a pair of goals, each fit for a highlight reel.
“I thought he played excellent tonight,” said Grillo. “We were kind of waiting for him to get going. He played kind of slow in the first game, but tonight he stepped up and played great.”
Colgate escaped its third overtime game in five outings with a victory, seemingly reversing the curse of the past two weeks. The Raiders dropped a 4-3 decision to Northeastern with just four seconds remaining in overtime, and lost to Army 3-2 for the first time in 17 years.
“It’s a nice win, obviously. It’s good to get that win after a couple of tough losses. I was a little concerned after they went up 2-1. You could feel a little bit of a letdown on the bench. But our leadership stepped forward and tried to rally the guys. We didn’t panic, and we were able to get back in.”
“It’s big for us, heading in to league play and starting off with a win,” added Smyth. “It gets our emotions going, and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”
Colgate hosts Harvard on Saturday at 4 p.m., thanks to its special Silver Puck weekend, which this year honors the 75th year of hockey at the university. Meanwhile, Brown travels to Ithaca to take on the streaking Big Red of Cornell on Saturday night.