HAMILTON, N.Y. — “A two goal lead is the most unsafe lead in hockey” coaches often say, and it proved true Saturday night. In was a battle down to the wire, the Colgate Raiders took advantage of their power plays to come back from a two-goal deficit and defeat the Renssalaer Engineers 3-2.
“It was disappointing,” remarked Engineer head coach Seth Appert after the game. “Discipline” was the deciding factor, he added. “We didn’t play as disciplined hockey as we did last night. We had our chances, but 13 penalty kills make our scholar-athletes tired.”
Renssalaer was coming off a 3-3 tie with the Cornell Big Red and hoped to demonstrate why the team has been noticed as a serious contender for the league title by numerous players and coaches. Colgate dominated the Union Dutchmen 5-2 the night prior and looked to build a three-game winning streak in ECACHL play.
Rensselaer opened the scoring with a power-play goal 2:29 into the first period. Seth Klerer passed the puck to Jake Luthi who let loose a shot. Paul Kerins tipped it into the net past Colgate’s Mark Dekanich for his third goal of the season.
The Engineers took a 2-0 lead 2:48 into the second period on a 4-on-3 power play. Luthi found Andrei Uryadov standing unattended in the middle of the slot, who received the pass and quickly wristed a shot that floated over Dekanich’s glove for his fifth of the season.
In an interesting turn of events at the 6:20 mark of the second, RPI’s Reed Kipp knocked over Dekanich and then, after getting in a scuffle with Colgate’s Dustin Gillanders, received a triple minor for roughing after the whistle. Thirty-three seconds later teammate Dan Peace took an interference penalty, which gave the Raiders the opportunity they needed to put themselves back in the game.
Working the puck around the perimeter, the Raider power play inched closer and closer to Mathias Lange’s goal until Jason Fredericks at the point passed the puck down low to Marc Fulton on the right side of the goal, who zipped the puck cross-ice to Jesse Winchester standing back door on the opposite side of the net. This was Winchester’s sixth goal of the season.
Colgate’s first goal was scored before half of Kipp’s 4:00 of penalty time were up, so the Raiders remained on a 5-on-3 and took advantage of it. Nick St. Pierre for Colgate found Fulton standing mid-slot. Fulton whipped a wrist shot that clanged off the crossbar and dropped into the net for his 11th goal of the season.
Fulton gave the Raiders the lead off his league-leading 12th goal over midway through the third on a 5-on-4 man advantage. Tyler Burton skated the puck to the top of the right faceoff circle then crossed it to Winchester on the left side of the crease. Winchester one-timed a pass to Fulton on the opposite side of the goalmouth, who knocked it past Lange to give the Raiders the lead.
RPI seemed to get some offensive momentum when the Appert sent Lange to the bench for an extra attacker; however, no sooner had that player stepped onto the ice when Referee John Murphy called a minor penalty on Paul Kerins for charging the goaltender. The Raiders were able to shut down the RPI offense in the waning minutes and hold onto their 3-2 lead at the end of regulation.
Andrew Dickson, one of the Raiders’ assistant coaches, broke down his team’s play saying, “the penalty kill was not up to stuff, but the power play was.” Dickson said that the team has been tweaking its power play in order to adjust to the rule enforcement changes, “It was nice to see it come through tonight.” What impressed Dickson the most about his team’s play was that “We shut them down in the third – we stuck to our systems, kept everything in front of us, and frustrated their scoring chances” to seal the victory.
“This was what we were hoping for,” commented Raiders assistant-captain Tyler Burton. Burton said the team’s goal was to finish its last ECACHL weekend of 2006 on a high note so that it could “carry that momentum into the new year.” “Our power play was really moving the puck around and Marc [Fulton] came up big -he finds the open holes, and when you give him the puck when he’s open he’ll score nine times out of ten.” “Our goaltending is back on track” Burton later assessed. “We have the best goaltender around. ‘Dex’ [Dekanich] makes life a lot easier for us – he is our backbone and carries us every night.”
Burton’s co-assistant captain, Winchester, capped off the interview session stating, “Tonight we sent a message to the league that we deserve to be where we want to be. I’m looking forward to the getting back on the ice next week.”
The Raiders travel to St. Cloud, Minn., for a two-game series with St. Cloud State next weekend, Dec. 8-9. Both games begin at 8:05 p.m., Eastern time, while RPI will hit the road again to face league rivals Quinnipiac and Princeton, Friday December 8th at 7 p.m. and Saturday December 9th at 7 p.m. respectively.