HAMILTON, N.Y. — Colgate’s leader in goals and power-play tallies buried two more on the man advantage Friday night at Starr Rink to lead his team to a 3-1 victory over St. Lawrence. So it’s no surprise that Tyler Burton may have been the only person in Hamilton who saw him as the freshman that he is.
“I’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season,” said the 5-foot-9 forward. “It’s a lot different coming from juniors. It’s a lot quicker and you have to be ready.”
A smile crept onto Colgate coach Don Vaughan’s face as he compared Burton to other freshmen he’s coached during his 12 years behind the Raider bench.
“He’s got a knack for finding the puck around the net,” said Vaughan. “The puck has a tendency to follow him around. He anticipates well, and he always keeps his feet moving. This year he’s been putting up numbers like a lot of the best that we’ve had at this program.”
St. Lawrence (13-11-1, 7-6-0 ECACHL) coach Joe Marsh presented an altogether different facial expression following his team’s tough road defeat. The Saints generated only three shots on goal in the first period, and while firing more rubber on the Raider net as the game progressed, never created enough quality chances to keep up with the home team.
“The beat us in every facet of the game,” he said. “They were the far superior team. Hats off to them for completely dominating the game. The score was deceiving. There was more than a two-goal difference between the teams.”
Colgate (19-6-0, 11-2-0) got on the board first on a two-man advantage. Burton positioned himself at the side of the Saints net and tapped home an Adam Mitchell pass for his first of the night. With a one goal advantage and a 15-3 shot differential in his team’s favor, Vaughan was most pleased with his squad’s defensive play in the opening period and throughout the game.
“As a defensive core, it may have been our best 60 minutes,” he said. “Even five-on-five we played our game. We wanted to get it on the boards down low and then grind it out. We didn’t spend as much time in our own end as we did on other nights.”
Colgate extended its lead to 2-0 when Liam Huculak lifted a loose puck over St. Lawrence goalie Mike McKenna’s right shoulder. After failing to score last season, Huculak has now recorded four goals and two game-winners during his sophomore campaign.
“There’s a lot there,” said Vaughan. “It took him a little while last year to adopt to the speed. The big thing for Liam has been building his confidence. He can shoot the puck, and he’s got good offensive instincts. It’s just a matter of getting him to believe it.”
Meanwhile, St. Lawrence began to find its groove, hoping to locate some of its scoring magic which had generated 28 goals in the five games leading up to their match up with Colgate. The Saints came up empty in the second frame, however, and started the third period with a two goal deficit.
“We’d been going pretty well offensively, but Colgate’s not the type of team that’s going to give you that,” said Marsh. “I didn’t expect to come in here and rack up seven. We mustered up some energy, but they’re a very tough team to come back against.”
Raider goalie Steve Silverthorn remained focused despite facing only three shots in the first 20 minutes, and turned aside 28 of the 29 shots he faced.
“He’s a veteran hockey player,” said Vaughan. “He knows how to keep his head on and stay focused. Even in the first period he made a couple of saves that looked unassuming but were big. We always say that you don’t have to make all the saves, you just have to make the right ones. He did again tonight.”
Burton’s second power-play goal just 49 seconds into the third period dug the hole even deeper for the Saints, and, despite a late power-play tally from Mark Wallmann, the visitors failed to rally for a comeback.
“I missed last Saturday’s game with the flu,” said Marsh. “But I felt more useless tonight than I did last Saturday sitting in bed.”
Marsh and his team hope to turn things back around against a tough Cornell squad tomorrow night. Meanwhile, Colgate looks to hold on to its perch on top of the ECACHL with a win against incoming Clarkson.
“There’s nothing better than being on a winning team,” said Burton, “and hopefully we can carry it through to the playoffs.”