OMAHA, Neb. — Colgate got its 2011-12 campaign off to a solid start, besting Robert Morris 3-1 on Friday in the opening game of the Maverick Stampede at CenturyLink Center.
It was a typical season-opener, leaving both teams with things to improve on in Saturday’s final round of the tournament. Colgate looked the brighter side on Friday, however, coming from behind before going ahead early in the second period and capping off the game with another goal in the third.
Friday’s opening period was a streaky one for both teams. Colgate burst out to an early lead in shots (6-0) and scoring opportunities. RMU looked tentative in the game’s initial throes, and the Colonials seemed almost glad to let the game come to them.
RMU then drew the game’s first penalty, giving the Colonials their first real opportunity to attack. They did just that, with forward Trevor Lewis ripping a hard shot low in the slot past Colgate goalie Alex Evin for a power-play goal 3:59 into the game.
The tally gave RMU a noticeable boost in confidence, but the Colonials were unable to get out of the period with their lead intact. RMU nearly got there, but with 1:14 left in the frame, Colgate equalized.
Raider forward Robbie Bourdon did the honors, beating RMU goaltender Brooks Ostergard off a rebound following an unsuccessful shot from Raider linemate John Lidgett.
Colgate head coach Don Vaughan saw Bourdon’s strike as the game’s turning point.
“Robbie’s been a big goal scorer for us for a while, and we needed that goal there before the horn,” the Raider coach said. “Any time you go into the locker room down a goal, it changes the dynamics (of the game), so that was an important goal to get.
“I didn’t think we generated enough shots tonight, but clearly that was one instance where we made one count, and it was a big one.”
Colgate then doubled its lead 6:17 into the second period. Forward Kurtis Bartliff was credited with the goal, latching onto another Ostergard rebound just outside the goalmouth and slotting the puck home.
RMU began playing with a greater sense of urgency after that, hitting and skating harder throughout the third period. It couldn’t stop Colgate from getting an insurance goal, though. Raider forward Joe Wilson effectively ended the game at 8:15 of the third period, finishing a great pass-and-move mini-clinic by Colgate’s top line in the RMU zone.
Colgate got the win it deserved in the end, but Vaughan didn’t appear as though he was about to celebrate for too long. Instead, he stressed after Friday’s game a need for his Raiders (1-0-0) to be ready to face No. 14 Nebraska-Omaha in the Stampede final on Saturday.
“It’s our first game, and I thought there was some tentativeness, but I was really happy with our young guys,” Vaughan said. “It’s early, though, and we have lots to work on, and we’ll get the kinks out. We’ve yet to find out just how good we are, but it’s great to get a win right away.”
RMU (0-1-0) also has left itself with room for improvement ahead of Saturday’s Maverick consolation game against Mercyhurst. Colonial head coach Derek Schooley was quick to admit that there are wrinkles that need to be ironed out.
“I thought it was a typical first game,” Schooley said. “There were a lot of mistakes both ways and a lot of things that both teams probably need to improve on.
“There are some good things that we did and that we can build on, but there are some things we need to work on, and we’ve got to be better tomorrow. It’s about getting better every day.”