HAMILTON, N.Y. — “We were sleepwalking for 40 minutes!” This was Union head coach Nate Leaman’s dismal reaction to his team’s play last night at Starr Rink, where league-rival Colgate amassed five straight goals in the first two periods for a 5-2 victory.
The Dutchmen came into the game riding a three-game winning streak, while the Raiders returned to the ice after, what their head coach Don Vaughan described as, a somewhat positive weekend towards getting the team on the right track.
The key factor in the game, beyond special-teams success, which is particularly crucial this season with the new rule enforcement policy, was goaltending. Both sets of players and coaches remarked that Colgate’s Mark Dekanich played shut-down hockey, while both of Union’s goaltenders who received ice time were shaky at best. Leaman pulled starter Justin Mrazek 2:39 into the second period after Colgate’s leading scorer Tyler Burton scored on a weak backhand that the netminder missed with his glove and put Union down 3-0. Mrazek’s replacement, Rich Sillery, gave up two goals of his own, including one off a similar glove whiff on a point shot by Colgate defenseman David Sloan. Of the opposing defense, Leaman admitted that, “you have to give credit to [Mark] Dekanich – he played well in net and didn’t let us get back in the game – as well as Colgate’s ‘D’ for clearing out the second chances.”
The Raiders scored five straight goals, while the Dutchmen did not get on the board until 4:47 into the third period. The eventual goal snapped Union’s 205:11 draught that had lasted since the teams met early in the 2005-06 season. David McIntyre broke open the scoring for Colgate 12:31 into the game on a nifty toe-drag move one-on-one against a Union defender. From the high left slot McIntyre wristed his fifth of the season along the ice under Mrazek’s blocker.
Jesse Winchester followed up McIntyre’s goal on a 4-on-3 power play opportunity four minutes later. Marc Fulton fed a pass to defenseman Jason Fredericks at the top of the slot. Fredericks took a low slap-shot, the rebound of which was directed by Mrazek directly onto the stick of Winchester who was standing on the back door. It was Winchester’s fifth goal of the season, as well.
The scoring subsided until the second period when Burton netted his fifth and sixth goals of the season. Burton’s second tally of the evening came off a well-executed power play. Winchester found Burton streaking down the middle of the ice in the offensive zone and zipped him a pass that produced a mini-breakaway. “I saw the goaltender backing off,” Burton said, “so I tucked it in low glove-side – my favorite spot. I like to stick to the low corners.”
Colgate’s final goal came shortly into the third, when David Sloan held the puck in at his point and intended to merely keep the puck in the zone by quickly wristing it back in. The soft shot happened to go on goal and back-up goaltender Sillery did not apparently see it until it was too late.
Olivier Bouchard for Union broke the shut-out with his fifth goal of the season. Defender Brenda Milnamow stopped a Raider’s attempted clear at the point and flung a shot that went off at least one Raider’s leg and off the stick of Bouchard who was planted in front of the Raider net. Mario Valery-Trabucco followed up with a power play goal less than five minutes later. Mike Schreiber, at the left point, received a pass from Jeff Christiansen, and then sent the puck to the low slot where Valery-Trabucco tapped in his fifth of the season past the diving Dekanich. The lone power-play goal was scored on the twelfth of thirteen opportunities for the Dutchmen with the man-advantage in the game.
The shot chart read in favor of the Raiders 34-27, to which Leaman commented after the game, “I don’t think the shot clock was right…. We had just as many quality chances, they just didn’t go in.” Leaman felt that his team was “soft” in winning battles for the puck and got outworked on its own power plays. The difference in the game, according to Leaman, was that “Colgate made us work for goals; we didn’t do that.”
Of their penalty-killing prowess, Raiders assistant-coach Andrew Dickson said, “We’ve been workin’ on it. It’s disappointing they got one [goal] – we take pride in our penalty kill and want to be perfect.” The most important Raider penalty-killer according to Dickson, Dekanich, stated that “it’s easy to play a good game when I’ve got solid guys, like I have, in front of me. The team played great defensively, I saw the puck well, and my keeping the puck out of the net is key for our confidence because it keeps us in the game and the momentum in our favor.”
Colgate hosts Rensselaer on Saturday, Dec. 2, at 7:00 p.m., hoping to jumpstart a winning streak as ECACHL play closes for the remainder of 2006. The Dutchmen will look to bounce back from the loss as they travel to play the Cornell Big Red at the same date and time.