NIAGARA, N.Y. — Colgate did just enough damage early in the first period, then rode the stellar play of goaltender Mark Dekanich to a 2-1 victory over Niagara in Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena Thursday night.
For Niagara, the loss was a bitter pill to swallow after the Purple Eagles controlled play for long stretches of the game but could not overcome last year’s ECACHL netminder of the year.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Colgate coach Don Vaughan said. “We lost Winchester in the first period tonight and our bench isn’t deep enough yet to handle that type of loss. But we’ll take the win. Obviously, Dekanich was the key factor tonight.”
Colgate jumped out to an early lead on goals 36 seconds apart from Jason Fredericks and Peter Bogdanich. Each time the Raiders beat Niagara goalie Juliano Pagliero with high shots, first on a long-range bomb by Frederick, and then on a rising backhander by Bogdanich.
Pagliero has shown a tendency to give up the top of the net in his two starts this year but the Raiders were unable to further exploit him as he steadied his game and went on to close the door on other Raider opportunities.
“We were out-chanced tonight,” Vaughan continued. “We seemed to be playing back on our heels a little, and maybe we were tired. We have until Sunday to figure it out.”
“Collectively, I don’t think we had enough guys bring their ‘A’ game tonight,” Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. “Sean Bentivoglio was the best player on the ice. Chris Moran gave us a great effort. Egor Mironov was very solid. Our fourth line created every time they were out there. But we just didn’t seem to have enough desperation around their net.”
Colgate continued to play a crisp defensive game in the first period and minimized Niagara’s second looks at the Raider net, even though the Purple Eagles moved the puck well on their three power play opportunities.
Dekanich stymied a fierce Niagara onslaught during the second period. The junior goalie turned back a total of ten Niagara shots. The Purple Eagles swarmed the Colgate zone, shift after shift, but were unable to purchase their first goal. Niagara defenseman Travis Anderson missed a point blank open look on the power play that punctuated the Purple Eagle’s frustration.
“I saw the puck clearly tonight,” Dekanich said. “There really wasn’t a lot of traffic around our net. Even though they outplayed us at times, it’s my job to make those saves and gives us the opportunity to win.”
Finally, Niagara capitalized on the power play midway through the third period when Les Reaney put back his own rebound after Ted Cook fed him in front of the Raiders goal.
Late in the third, Niagara’s Danny Sullivan made a goal-saving defensive block shortly after Reaney’s tally when he stacked his pads on the far side of the Niagara net after Pagliero wandered out of the goal to play an odd bouncing puck. Then, in a fitting display of missed opportunities, Ryan Annesly and Travis Anderson missed open nets on consecutive power play shifts.
Niagara pulled Pagliero with 42 seconds left but could not get a quality chance. The Raiders notched their first win of the season and move onto a Sunday contest versus Bentley. Niagara hosts Holy Cross on Saturday at Dwyer Arena for their home opener.