HAMILTON, N.Y. — It looked like night and day comparing the Colgate Raiders’ efforts from Friday night and Saturday night.
Coming off a dismal 5-2 loss to the St. Lawrence Saints in game one of the ECAC quarterfinals series, the Raiders bounced back with a 3-2 victory.
Raiders’ assistant captain Tyler Burton remarked, “For us seniors it was do-or-die tonight; leave it all on the line and play like it’s your last game. If we don’t find a way to win, then it’s the end of the line.”
Burton personally led the charge to ensure that Saturday’s game would not be his last, getting an assist on the Raiders’ first goal and scoring their other two.
Colgate coach Don Vaughan said at the end of Friday night’s game that his team needed its “go-to” players to “look in the mirror and take over.”
“What can you say; [Burton] finds a way,” Vaughan said after game two. “We needed him to step up tonight and he did.”
Vaughan praised Burton as one of the best players to have ever put on a Raiders jersey.
Vaughan felt that game two was “a heck of a college hockey game,” as both teams competed hard in a relatively balanced game.
Saints’ head coach Joe Marsh agreed, saying “It was a fun, clean game.”
Marsh then praised the Raiders as a good team, making a reference to the movie “Groundhog Day” to make his point that his team has been in the losing position against Colgate each of the teams’ three regular season meetings. “It’s been a year of us taking one step forward and then one step back.”
Like last night, the scoring began late in the opening frame. Burton worked the puck into the right corner of the Saints’ zone, then kicked the puck out to Kevin McNamara at the point, who zipped the puck toward the goal. It appeared that McNamara was aiming for Ben Camper’s stick for the deflection; if so, the play worked exactly according to plan. Camper redirected the puck up and over the shoulder of Saints’ goalie John Hallas for his fourth goal of the season.
The Saints came roaring out of the locker room to open the second and scored a mere 48 seconds in. Defenseman Matt Generous cheated in from the point and joined the play behind the Raiders’ net. Standing alone in Gretzky’s office, Generous opted to wraparound on his forehand side. Colgate goaltender Mark Dekanich made the initial save, but Travis Vermeulen stuffed home the rebound for his eighth of the season.
That goal resurrected the Colgate offense, which surged back 23 seconds later to retake the lead. Jason Fredericks gathered the puck at the left point and rifled a shot on goal. The puck squeezed through the legs of Hallas and trickled toward the goal line. Burton fought through the check of a Saints’ defender to knock the puck home for his 19th goal of the season.
Ten minutes later, after the Raiders successfully killed off a pair of penalties, Burton extended the Raiders’ lead to 3-1 on a power play. Kevin McNamara took a one-timer slap shot from the left point off a feed from Wade Poplawski. The puck sailed high and wide, rolling to Jesse Winchester along the right half-boards. Winchester gave back the puck to McNamara, who picked his head up and gave a pass to Burton standing alone by the right post. Hallas, by facing the shooter from the point, could not get across the goal-mouth fast enough to stop Burton from netting his second of the game.
Casey Parenteau brought St. Lawrence back to within one five minutes later. Aaron Bogosian battled for possession along the boards at mid-ice. After winning it, he zipped a cross-ice pass to Parenteau, who stood undefended by the Raiders’ blue line. Parenteau skated in on a mini-breakaway and opted to aim for Dekanich’s five-hole and put the shot through the legs for his 11th of the season.
Both teams grinded hard in the third to tack on another goal, but neither proved successful. David McIntyre for the Raiders came within three inches of netting an empty-net goal with 18 seconds left on the clock.
“It’s all going to come down to tomorrow night,” sad Marsh.
“Everyone knows what’s at stake,” added Burton about how his team will approach game three, saying that his teammates will approach it just like they did game two. “It’s going to be a dog fight tomorrow,”
The deciding game three will take place at Starr Rink on Sunday at 7 p.m.