ESTERO, Fla. — A shootout was not the best bet for Colgate to beat Maine in the opening game of the Florida College Classic.
Having twice missed on breakaways, once in the closing minutes of regulation and again with 11 seconds left in the five-minute overtime, the Raiders wanted to take care of business before the conclusion of overtime.
They got that wish.
With one second remaining in the extra session, a deflection of a Nick St. Pierre shot from the left point landed on the stick of David McIntyre. Facing a wide open net with Maine goaltender Scott Darling (24 saves) down and out, McIntyre slammed the puck against the back of the twine just before the buzzer sounded to give Colgate a 3-2 victory and advance them to the finals. They will face the winner of Saturday’s late game between St. Cloud State and Cornell.
“We were all thinking we wanted to finish it before the shootout,” admitted McIntyre. “I didn’t even know how much time was left [when I got the puck]. I just tried to shoot it as quick as possible.”
The offensive zone faceoff was set up when Austin Smith, who already had two goals on the day, was sent in on a breakaway pass. It seemed that stop might have saved the day for Maine.
“We miss a breakaway with 11 seconds to go and then we score with one second left on the clock,” said Colgate coach Don Vaughan. “You don’t see that happen too often.”
The overtime game winner concluded a major comeback for the Raiders, who fell behind 2-0 in the first when, as Vaughan admitted, his team was thoroughly outplayed.
“We had a very slow start,” said Vaughan. “Maine came after us pretty hard in the first. But we weathered it and we were able to come back.”
Conversely, the loss was a “tough one to swallow,” according to Maine coach Tim Whitehead.
His club had ample opportunities to extend the lead early in the second period, but were unable to convert, leaving an open door that Colgate walked right through.
“I thought we played well in the first and we played real well in the third and in the overtime,” said Whitehead. “But we did not do some things well, namely faceoffs and that hurt us.”
Both the tying goal in the second period for Colgate and the game-winner in overtime came off missed covers on faceoffs. The overtime game winner was glaring, as McIntyre was left completely uncovered inside of the right faceoff dot.
Maine dominated the opening period, out-shooting the Raiders, 16-5. Two goals by the Black Bears fourth line gave them a 2-0 lead through one.
Keif Orsini opened the scoring at 8:48, streaking into the zone and one-timing a pass from Lem Randall. Colgate netminder Charles Long (34 saves) got a piece of the shot, but the puck trickled through his legs and Orsini followed his bid to tip it into the open net.
At 11:08, Maine extended the lead. Randall tipped a Ryan Hegarty shot from the right post past Long and inside the left post to give the Black Bears a two-goal lead.
Maine had ample opportunity to extend the lead. Brian Flynn was alone behind Colgate’s defense, but couldn’t get the puck around Long. The junior netminder then robbed Spencer Abbott at 14:38 with a glove save on the doorstep to keep the Maine advantage at two.
In the second, penalties hurt the Black Bears, allowing Colgate to draw even. After Maine’s Robby Dee was sent off for hooking at 7:08, the Black Bears picked up an extra minor in an after-the-whistle scrum, giving the Raiders a five-on-three power play for 1 minutes, 38 seconds.
It took just 20 seconds for Colgate to take advantage. Smith buried a cross-ice feed from Nick St. Pierre at 7:51 to pull the Raiders within a goal.
Later in the frame, Maine was on the power play when Will O’Neil was sent off for tripping, negating the man advantage. On the ensuing faceoff, McIntyre won the draw forward and immediately centered to Smith, who buried the puck into the open net to send the game to the third deadlocked at two.
“It was a great play by those two,” said Vaughan of McIntyre and Smith’s faceoff play. “I’d like to say I called that one from the bench but that was all them.”
Both clubs had their chances to end the game in regulation, Maine’s coming during and immediately after a power play midway through the frame when they peppered Long but couldn’t beat him.
Colgate’s was even more glaring, as Brian Day was sent in alone on a breakaway with 1:36 remaining. He tried to beat Darling five-hole, but was denied.
The Black Bears dominated the overtime territorially, but couldn’t get the quality shot on net. Colgate got just two shots on net in the extra session, Smith’s breakaway with 11 seconds left and the game winner at the buzzer. That, though, was obviously plenty.