SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — The Colgate Raiders officially own the Capital Region.
Last weekend Colgate shocked Rensselaer in the first round of the ECAC playoffs, rallying from 1-0 deficit to top the Engineers in overtime in a decisive Game 3.
This weekend, the resilient Raiders, the 12th seed in the tournament, repeated their performance, shocking top-seeded Union in Game 3 of the ECAC quarterfinals 4-3 in overtime on Sunday. Wade Poplawski’s first goal of the season 12:52 into the extra frame propelled his team to another upset victory.
“It was another gutsy performance by our team. We played a very good team, and we beat a very good team,” said Colgate coach Don Vaughn. “I thought our effort was over the top.
“For us to come in here last week and again this week and get a win like this speaks volumes to me about the character senior class and our captains. I couldn’t be more proud of our team.”
The Raiders dominated the overtime period, controlling the play and generating the majority of the prime scoring chances. That caused Leaman to call a timeout, but it did not prove beneficial as Poplawski sent the Raiders to Atlantic City with a shot into the top right corner of the net from the left circle.
“The puck came out to me … I saw a guy coming out to block a shot and I gave a little head fake and dropped the shoulder,” said Poplawski. “I just side stepped and I think the goalie had a chance to square up but he wasn’t quite set, and I just saw an open spot and tried to put it there and I was just lucky that it went there.”
The Dutchmen won the ECAC Hockey regular season title but will be watching the playoff championship from afar.
“It’s tough because we led so much in this series and we just couldn’t pull away from them,” said Union coach Nate Leaman. “The bounces just went their way.”
In a period where Colgate had the upper hand in the play, it was Union who struck first to take a 1-0 first period lead.
The first goal of the game came in the latter half of the period and was initiated on a shot by Mat Bodie from the right point. Colgate goaltender Eric Mihalik made a kick save with his left pad, but the puck bounced right to Andrew Buote, who knocked the puck into the open net. The goal was Buote’s second of the weekend and third of the season.
The second frame featured tremendous special teams play as the Raiders netted two power-play goals on three chances, while the Dutchmen netted one on their only man advantage of the period.
Colgate tied the game early in the frame on their first extra-man opportunity of the period. The Raiders’ first goal commenced when Jeremy Price took a shot from the left circle that was initially stopped by Union goaltender Keith Kinkaid. But, with a rebound sitting right in front of Kinkaid, Austin Smith was able to get his stick on the puck and slide it through Kinkaid’s five hole.
But Union went up by one goal once again on a power-play tally of its own when Jeremy Welsh ripped a one-timer from the right point past Mihalik.
Before the period concluded, Colgate tied the game up once again with a power-play goal. Price once again was key in the play as his shot from the point was blocked in the slot. Luckily for the Raiders, Kurtis Bartliff scooped up the puck and put a backhand shot past Kinkaid’s glove.
Union struck back to take the lead on a goal early in the third period. Kelly Zajac scored for the Dutchmen when he received a pass from Adam Presizniuk while streaking from the right corner to the net. He caught the pass in his skates and was able to kick the puck up to his stick and slide it around Mihalik and into the net.
But Colgate was resilient like it has been for the entire game and playoffs, and sent the game to overtime. With under 2:30 left in regulation Francois Brisebois tied the game on a shot from the right wing that found its way through a few skates and past Kinkaid.
“[Brisebois] just threw it at the net and it hit something, and it was just enough to get in,” said Kinkaid.
Next weekend Colgate will face Yale in the ECAC semifinals, while Union will await its NCAA tournament fate.
“We’ll have a couple days to recharge our batteries and I guess we’ll see what’s in the cards for us,” said Union captain Brock Matheson.
“It’s been a bit of a fairy tale so far,” said Poplawski. “We just haven’t stopped believing in ourselves and each other, and it has showed in our past two weekends. We feel we’re playing our best hockey at the right time.”