HAMILTON, N.Y. — It’s better to be lucky than good, some might say, as the No. 17 Colgate Raiders (13-6-5, 9-2-1) defeated the No. 10 St. Lawrence Saints in overtime.
The Saints had the chance to go up 3-1 halfway through the second period, but T.J. Trevelyan’s shot hit both posts behind Colgate’s goaltender Mark Dekanich, and the Raiders’ third goal, similar to the night before, went in off the opposing defender.
The win put Colgate in sole possession of the first place position in the ECACHL and kept its undefeated overtime record in tact (2-0-5). St. Lawrence’s is now second in the standings, and its overtime record is pushed back to 2-2-1.
“This weekend was awesome for the team on the league and national ranking scale,” said Colgate’s Marc Fulton, the overtime scorer.
The Raiders pulled out their first win against Clarkson since 1999 Friday night, and though their record against the Saints was better (7-2-1 at home), the team knew it had a tough match ahead of them Saturday night against a higher nationally ranked opponent in St. Lawrence. The Saints came into the game having swept their opponents last weekend — Rensselaer (4-3) and Union (3-0) — but sustaining a tough 5-2 loss to Cornell Friday night.
Colgate’s David Sloane kicked off the scoring 6:39 into the first period. Fulton missed a drop pass from Kyle Wilson, but Sloane was trailing right behind and picked up the loose puck, wristing it low blocker side past St. Lawrence’s Justin Pesony for his fourth of the season.
Two minutes later the Saints tied the score off a Matt Generous slap shot from the point. The puck zipped top shelf over Colgate goaltender Mark Dekanich’s glove for Generous’ third of the season.
St. Lawrence then took the lead with another point shot. A shovel shot from Shawn Fensel, from practically the same location as Generous’ goal, found its way through a group of bodies in front of the net and under Dekanich’s blocker. At the close of the first, the score read 2-1.
“We talked about winning face offs between periods. We weren’t jumping on the puck,” commented Raider head coach Don Vaughan. “I thought we were a little sluggish in the first, but then we played some of our best hockey in the last two periods. It started with our legs — wingers started winning face offs, and we started working the boards.”
In the second, just as a late St. Lawrence penalty to Matt Generous expired, Colgate capitalized on some hard work behind the Saints’ net. The puck was worked to Mike Campaner at the point, who fed a pass to Peter Bogdanich skating through the slot. Bogdanich went forehand-to-backhand around a sprawling Pesony for his second of the season, tying the game at two.
The Raiders made it 3-2 off their second lucky bounce of the weekend (Friday night’s Burton goal from behind the net also gave Colgate the lead 3-2). Raider defenseman Eric Main skated the puck himself out of Colgate’s zone through center and then down the right-wing boards. Main backhanded a pass in front from near the goal line. The puck went off the skate of Saints’ defender Shawn Fensel and into the far side of the net before Pesony could get across the goal mouth, marking Main’s fourth tally of the season.
With time running out in the third, the Saints scored on a two-on-two rush to tie the game. Trevelyan picked up the puck in the St. Lawrence defensive zone and skated it out himself toward the Colgate end. Trevelyan took Fulton (covering for pinching defenseman Alex Greig) out wide on the left wing and then crossed a pass through the low slot. John Zeiler, the latest member of the Saint 100-point club, stretched his stick out to get a piece of the puck and tapped it in around the leg of Dekanich for his ninth of the season.
The score remained 3-3 by the end of regulation. During the break before the overtime period, Vaughan said there was mostly a pensive silence on the Raider bench.
“I told the guys to make sure to keep a third guy high, but they didn’t want to play reserved…the guys wanted to win.”
Colgate proved to have the stronger legs in the overtime period, dominating the play in the Saints’ zone. Eventually Ryan Smyth worked the puck free from a group of bodies behind Pesony’s net, and he found an unnoticed Fulton sneaking towards the goal. Fulton received the pass and wristed one that barely squeezed through Pesony’s arm. Fulton picked up his ninth of the season 58 seconds into the sudden-death period.
“Throughout the weekend the coaches made a point of telling us to ‘disappear,’” Fulton commented after the game. “If you get ‘lost,’ the defense has a hard time covering you. I was just trying to get open in the slot and get the shot off as quick as I could.”
Visibly frustrated, after the game St. Lawrence head coach Joe Marsh, now in his 21st season behind the bench, had this to say: “This is a tough building, and it’s a tough way to lose like that at the end. We had some good breaks last weekend, and I thought we came back with a good game tonight, but that happens. We have an emotional weekend coming up with Clarkson back-to-back nights, so we’ve got to muster up everything we’ve got this week to be ready for the weekend.”
When asked about how he felt with his team in holding the first place position in the ECACHL standings, Vaughan responded, “There’s a lot of hockey left, this is barely the halfway point of the season. We’re not going to just sit on this one point lead.”
Vaughan continued later, “Standings are funny things, we can’t focus on them. We need to focus on the next game ahead of us and take each game one at a time.”
St. Lawrence’s home-and-home contests with Clarkson will take place at 7:00 PM on both Friday, January 27th, and Saturday, January 28th. Colgate hosts both Yale and Brown on the same days and times, looking to build on its lead in the standings.