HAMILTON, N.Y. — Respect is not a quality often looked at when analyzing a hockey game, but at Starr Rink Saturday night, the respect between the players and coaches of both teams was evident.
Going into the game, these two teams were separated by one point in conference play and it ended up being an overtime goal by Mike McKenzie with 42 seconds left that propelled the St. Lawrence Saints to a 3-2 victory over the Colgate Raiders.
Saints’ defenseman Matt Raley skated with the puck in the offensive zone and passed it up to Travis Vermeulen at the top of the left circle. Vermeulen blasted a slap shot that was deflected off of McKenzie’s skate on the way to the net. The deflection was just enough to beat Colgate netminder Alex Evin and end the game.
“Both teams are really close in terms of ability,” commented Saints’ coach Joe Marsh. “We’ve always had great games with (Colgate). They can scare you; they have a smart coach and they are a really good team.”
The goaltending for each team was stellar, as it took over half a game to get the first goal. Colgate broke out of their zone as Austin Smith sent a headman pass to Matt Firman and Firman and Brian Day went down on a two-on-one. Criss-crossing at the blue line, Firman dropped the puck to Day. As they reached the goal, Day saucer passed it across to Firman, who tapped it past an extended Kain Tisi in net at 10:31 of the second period.
An Ethan Cox carry-over penalty proved to be costly, as St. Lawrence was able to set up their power play at the start of the third period. The puck made its way out to Derek Keller at the point. Keller passed across to McKenzie, who took a slap shot that was deflected out of mid-air by Aaron Bogosian, and the puck just squeaked through Evin’s five-hole and tied the game with 18:42 left in the third.
Colgate answered, as right off the faceoff, they brought the puck into the offensive zone. Smith left the puck for Nathan Sinz at the point. Sinz put the puck on net and the puck found Day’s stick. Day was able to wrist it into the wide-open net, regaining a one-goal lead with just over 18 minutes left.
St. Lawrence never gave up though, and tied the game at 8:07 of the third period. Jacob Drewiske dished the puck off to Matt Raley. Raley took a shot and the puck was rolling around in the slot area, and a favorable bounce let the puck settle on the stick of Brandon Bollig, who was able to stuff it past Evin, tying the game at two.
The first four minutes of overtime saw the teams trading opportunity for opportunity, and it ended up being the deflection off McKenzie that ended what proved to be a very even, hard-fought contest.
“It was a great hockey game,” said Colgate coach Don Vaughan. “Both goalies played really well and really hard. They were both in the zone and kept the game close. We knew it was going to be a low scoring game, but we had our opportunities.”
One of the biggest differences in the game was the St. Lawrence penalty kill.
“It was a great job by our penalty killers,” Marsh said. “We respect their power play, but we stayed aggressive enough and we managed the shifts well. We really came at them with good energy.”
The Saints killed off all six penalties in the contest, including four in the first period.
“Their penalty kill was one of the best we’ve seem all season,” said Vaughan. “Just one goal could’ve changed the game, but give them a lot of credit, they played well.”
St. Lawrence (14-9-4, 8-4-2) will play at Rensselaer and Union next weekend, while Colgate (10-10-5, 7-5-1) heads to Princeton and Quinnipiac.