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College Hockey:
Smyth Leads Way As Colgate Edges Mercyhurst

— Jon Smyth had a goal and an assist to lead all scores as Colgate posted a three-goal surge to down visiting Mercyhurst 3-1 Friday evening at Starr Rink.

A scoreless first period saw few chances for either squad to get on the board, as the host Raiders outshot the Lakers 7-4. Mercyhurst goaltender Andy Franck made some impressive saves, but the most exciting moment of the first came midway through the frame. A dump into the Colgate zone grazed the skate of a linesman at the blueline, sending the puck precariously close to the goalmouth as Raider netminder Steve Silverthorn headed behind his own net in anticipation of where the puck would be.

Mercyhurst broke the scoreless tie early on in the second period. David Wrigley drove the slot unobstructed from the blueline, beating Silverthorn at 3:40 for a 1-0 Laker lead.

“We scored a great goal, and had a few chances to make it 2-0 right after that,” said Mercyhurst head coach Rick Gotkin. “Bad execution by us, good execution by Colgate, whatever you want to call it, they got back into the game. We didn’t have a lot of offensive opportunities, but then again neither did they.”

The Raiders stepped up the intensity after the Laker goal, tying the contest at 8:00 even. Sophomore Liam Huculak netted his first career goal in 37 career appearances thanks to a great feed across the slot by Matt Torti. Alone at the right-side dot, Huculak rifled a shot low along the ice before Franck could close the gap, knotting the game at one apiece.

The Lakers got into a bit of penalty trouble midway through the period, taking three consecutive penalties at one point. The parade of players to the penalty box caught up with the Lakers at 15:31 when Colgate’s Tyler Burton skated from behind the Mercyhurst net and squeezed the puck between the post and Franck’s leg to put the Raiders up 2-1.

“We’re real comfortable with our penalty killers, out of our 11 forwards we have about nine guys we use regularly,” remarked Gotkin. “We practice it every day, and we did a good job with it tonight. It was just a tough situation; there were some calls that we deserved, and the others I didn’t see. We’re still trying to figure out what is and what isn’t a penalty.”

Smyth added an empty-net goal at 18:49 to seal the victory for the Raiders.

Silverthorn made a total of 13 saves in net for Colgate, while Franck stopped 21 shots. The Raiders went 1-for-7 on the power play, with the game-winner coming on the man advantage, while the Lakers were scoreless on their six chances.

“The bottom line is we have to find a way to win a game like this; we just haven’t been able to do that yet,” said Gotkin. “I thought we were faster than Colgate, but I also felt that they were bigger and stronger. At the end of the day, we played another good team on the road again, but we need to find a way to win a game like this.

“Coming out of the UMass game on November 14, we talked with the team that we needed to be in this game if we wanted to win it. We felt that after the first period and again after the second that we were in it. We know that the road is a tough place to play for anybody in any league, and we couldn’t afford to be down three- or four-nothing like we were at UMass and expect to work our way back into it.”

Saturday Colgate (8-4-0) and Mercyhurst (4-6-0) close out a weekend series at Starr Rink beginning at 7 p.m.

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