HAMILTON, N.Y. — It was quite a season opener at home for the Colgate Raiders (1-0-0), who defeated the Sacred Heart Pioneers (0-1-0) 6-2 at Starr Rink on Friday night. These teams had not seen each other since the 2004-05 season, when the Raiders earned a 5-1 win at Starr Rink. Colgate has now won all six encounters with Sacred Heart, and outscored the Pioneers 33-12.
Colgate throughout the game did a good job holding the puck in the offensive zone and generating pressure off the keep-in, which led to Colgate’s first two goals. The Raiders got the ball rolling eight minutes into the first.
After a hold at the blue line by the Colgate defense, Nick St. Pierre passed the puck off to Franc Brisbois at the top of the right slot. Brisbois then zipped a pass cross-ice to the top of the left slot, where Ben Camper corralled the puck and snapped it into the goal along the near side before Pioneer goaltender Stefan Drew could get across.
“I would like to say I picked that corner, but to be honest I just fired the puck on net without a clue as to where it was headed,” said Camper.
The Raiders tacked on another goal a mere 46 seconds later, again, off a key turnover at the blue line. Jesse Winchester held the puck in the Pioneer zone and worked the puck deep around the net. Eventually Tyler Burton crossed the puck to Ethan Cox alone on the doorstep, and he netted his third career goal.
After going 0-for-2 on the power play, the Pioneers got on the board 13-plus minutes into the game. The Pioneers worked the puck well along the perimeter and managed a flurry of shots on the Raider goal. Colgate goaltender Mark Dekanich was able to fend off three quick shots before the puck ricocheted out to the point, where first-year defenseman Reade Wolansky slapped one that caromed off at least one body in front and slipped under Dekanich’s glove for his first collegiate goal.
It looked like the Pioneers might have finally gotten the jump they needed to get back into the game, but any momentum their first goal may have generated was quashed by Brian Day’s goal, also the first of his college career, 16 seconds later for the Raiders.
Colgate extended its lead to 4-1 midway through the second. The Raiders were looking sharp on the power play, capitalizing on the Pioneers’ inability to get their sticks in the passing lanes, but were not quite able to get the puck past Drew.
Just as Pioneer Bear Trapp hit the ice after serving two minutes for boarding, the puck found its way to the point where Nick St. Pierre sent a high shot on net that Raider captain Winchester knocked down with his stick through Drew’s legs for his 33rd career goal.
The Pioneers cut the lead to two with another power-play goal four minutes later. Defenseman Eric Giosa received a pass from Dave Grimson at the opposite point and wristed a shot on goal that Raider Ben Camper unintentionally deflected into the net as Dekanich slid too far to the opposite side. Giosa earned his 13th collegiate goal on the play.
Colgate quickly responded, with Cox striking for the second time in the game. Burton led the Colgate rush into the Pioneers’ zone and lifted a shot that rolled up the netminder’s arm, and with the puck in mid-air Cox was able to strike it and knock it off Drew’s helmet and into the net, putting the Raiders up 5-2.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Cox said of his two goals, “my linemates did all the work, I just put them away.”
Burton capped off the scoring for the evening with a shorthanded goal for the Raiders. Receiving the puck on the Pioneer blue line, Burton made a nifty move sliding the puck behind his back past the oncoming Pioneer defender. Burton turned around and picked up the pass to himself and came in on a breakaway. The puck eventually was pushed in after a horde of players crowded around the rebound. Burton was credited with his third point of the game and 60th career goal.
“Colgate competed hard today and we just didn’t execute,” Pioneer coach Shaun Hannah said. “We didn’t work hard enough to win a hockey game. Our defensive zone coverage was not good, we didn’t pass the puck well, and we had suspect communication.”
Asked about positive things his team could take away from their season opener, Hannah said, “At least we know where we’re at. We can start fresh on Monday.”
Head coach Don Vaughan, now in his 16th season behind the bench with the Raiders, remarked that the team showed “good intensity” and “good jump,” while Cox affirmed that the Raiders did a good job “setting the tempo,” dictating the flow and direction of play for most of the game.
“It’s nice to get off to a good start,” added Camper. About a weak showing from the Raider penalty-kill unit, Vaughan mentioned that the team has “only been at it a week,” and that the penalty kill is something that gets worked out over the course of the season, not on the first day.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Camper.
“It was good to score some goals to start the season, but we realize that we’ve got a long way to go,” followed Vaughan. “We’ve gotta come back and do it tomorrow.”
The Raiders will host RIT Saturday at 7 p.m., while the Pioneers get a week off until they play Rensselaer on October 20 at 7 p.m. Sacred Heart will look to get its record up to the .500 mark.