HAMILTON, N.Y. — A win’s a win, it doesn’t always have to be pretty.
These words sum up Colgate Raider Head Coach Don Vaughan’s feelings after his team defeated the Bentley Falcons Saturday night 3-1. Colgate (3-1-1) continued their prominence on the power play, scoring the game’s first two goals. The Falcons (2-4-0) were able to cut the lead to one, but a quick transition goal late in the second broke the team’s momentum. Colgate followed their third goal with tough defense throughout the third period, and held on for the win. This was the two teams’ first meeting ever. Colgate extended its win streak to two games after trouncing Army last weekend 6-1, and Bentley College suffered a disappointing second loss in a row for the weekend after an 8-1 defeat Friday night to Union.
“I was very pleased with our performance tonight after displaying our worst performance last night” commented Falcon fourth-year Head Coach Ryan Sonderquist. “I thought we battled to the end, finished our checks, and it was great to come away with some positive play in a more hostile environment [than is prevalent at the home rink of another AHA team].”
Vaughan, now in his 13th season behind the bench at Colgate, affirmed Sonderquist’s compliments about the Falcon’s play Saturday night. “Bentley came off a tough loss last night and worked hard. I was very impressed.” Bentley has not faired well against ECACHL teams, this loss marking its fifth straight to an ECACHL team. The Falcons were looking to get within two games of the 300-win mark for their club since the program started in the 1977-78 season, but will have to wait at least one more game for that opportunity.
Of his own team, Vaughan had this to say: “It’s nice to come away with a 3-1 win, but we need to be more consistent in our efforts. As a coach, you have to look at the way your team played a game and how the executed its systems. In a nutshell, we need more consistency in our efforts.”
Colgate exemplified its nationally fourth-ranked power play. Only 2:10 into the first period the Falcons took their first penalty, and the Raiders capitalized less than halfway through. Senior captain John Smith took a breakout pass from junior Mike Campaner and just after he gained the blue line he let go a heavy slapshot from the top of the circle. The puck whistled over freshman goaltender Jason Kearney’s glove and just under the crossbar for Smith’s second goal of the season and 43rd goal of his Colgate career.
Raider sophomore Tyler Burton extended his goal-scoring streak with a power-play goal scored at 13:05 in the first, also scored on the transition. Linemate Jesse Winchester headmanned the puck to Burton who was streaking up the off wing. Burton created a mini-breakaway for himself by skating hard to the middle, picked his head up, and found a hole low-far side for his third goal of the season.
The Raiders seemed to lose some of their momentum going into the second period, and the Falcons were finally able to muster up some offense and tally one a quarter of the way through the period. Raider senior Eric Main made a good play stepping up on Falcon freshman Jeff Gumaer, but Gumaer followed up the check by stripping Jason Fredricks. Gumaer found wingman Anthony Canzoneri, who quickly got the puck cross-ice onto the tape of Dain Prewitt. Justin Kowalkoski was left out to dry as Prewitt came in on a partial breakaway and slipped the puck under Kowalkoski’s glove for his first collegiate goal.
Bentley’s momentum was stymied by a late goal in the second just as a power play was ending. Eric Main went into the box for hooking, and jumped onto the ice two minutes later just in time to join a two-on-one with Kyle Wilson. Wilson threaded the needle to Main hurtling in from the sin bin, and Main got just enough wood on the puck for it to slide five-hole through Kearney. Mike Campaner assisted on all three Colgate goals, boosting his season point-total to seven.
Kowalkowski made his first career start with the Raiders, while Kearney started for only his second game with the Falcons. Kearney stood tall, making 28 saves total. Kowalkoski stopped 19 shots.
“I was pleased with how Jason played tonight” Sonderquist said. “He made some big saves and blanked them in the third. I thought he kept his poise despite the large-crowd environment.”
Of his own goaltender, Vaughan said, “Justin’s a positional goalie, when he’s doing his job the pucks hit him. It was great to get Justin a start and a win.”
“I thought I did okay,” Kowalkoski. Like for his first interview, for his first start he was quite a bit nervous, but he said that he knew what his job was going into this game – to go out there and stop the puck.
“He made big saves at the right times,” said Smyth. “He stepped in at a moment’s notice – it’s great to have a player like that.
“We’re not ready for ECACHL play,” Smyth added. “The ECACHL is more intense, there’s more hitting, but this week we’ll get back to work and by next weekend we’ll be ready.”
Colgate next plays at Brown on Friday hoping to carry their win streak into league play. Bentley will next face Sacred Heart on the road, also on Friday, trying to turn around its two-game skid.