Raiders Eliminated from Tournament

Photo by Bob Cornell
Photo by Bob Cornell
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CANTON, N.Y. – Two more pipes, and the curtain closed on Colgate’s season-ending string of near misses.

Sixth-seeded St. Lawrence grabbed an early lead for the second night in a row and held off 11th-seeded Colgate 4-1 here Saturday to win this ECAC Hockey First-Round series two games to none.

For Colgate, it was the ninth loss in 10 games since the Raiders last left the North Country with a pair of ties back in early February.

“It’s a funny game; you have to work for your breaks,” Colgate head coach Don Vaughan said. “But if you look back at how we lost a couple of games, the hockey gods weren’t shining on us.”

Six of Colgate’s nine defeats down the stretch were by two goals or less, including a pair of crushing overtime setbacks. Friday’s score was 4-2, St. Lawrence.

“We had some tough overtime losses, just a bounce of the puck,” Vaughan said. “Even tonight, we hit two posts. They go the other way and you gain a little momentum from that. Sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t.”

Vaughan and the Raiders say goodbye to eight seniors, including captains Jeremy Price, Nathan Sinz and Thomas Larkin. But he hopes they helped build a foundation for the future of Colgate hockey.

“I’m proud of our guys and I really liked this team,” he said. “We never questioned our work ethic. Our senior class is everything we try to create in this program. They’re great hockey players, they’re really excellent students and they’re better citizens. That’s a phenomenal combination and we can all learn a lot from that.

“Moving forward, they will leave their mark on this program and we will be better for it. But St. Lawrence was a better team this weekend.”

Another Quick Strike

St. Lawrence struck first in the opening period for the second straight night. Saints captain Kyle Flannagan found a wide-open net after a nice dish from George Hughes. Pat Raley also was credited with an assist and it was 1-0 homesiders with 10:02 showing.

Colgate’s second penalty of the period led to St. Lawrence’s second goal. Saints forward Greg Carey misfired on his first try at a one-timer from Hughes, but he was true on his second and his shot from the right angle whistled past Colgate’s Spencer Finney with 6:17 left in the opening period.

Finney was pulled for Eric Mihalik at this point.

“Obviously their power play was on fire tonight,” Vaughan said. “We made some adjustments to our penalty-kill coming into tonight, but clearly we just had a couple of mental mistakes. The X’s and O’s were in place, we just weren’t able to execute.”

Colgate looked like it was going to get a man advantage just under the four-minute mark, but then the Raiders were called for their own penalty and the chance went awry.

In the second period, Colgate went on its first two power plays of the night when the Saints were whistled first for slashing with 10:47 left and then for holding with 8:51 showing. But the Raiders extra-man unit didn’t have quite the same pizazz as during Friday’s late rally and St. Lawrence maintained its two-goal lead without any serious threats.

Colgate’s Mike McCann had a point-blank chance nearing the five-minute mark of the period, but his backhander struck St. Lawrence goalie Matt Weniner squarely in the face mask and the chance was over.

St. Lawrence then closed the period on the power play after the Raiders were tagged for interference in the last 90 seconds.

And the Saints made it pay off once the intermission break was over when Justin Baker scored from close range off a nice feed from Flanagan. Carey also chalked up an assist as the hosts upper their lead to 3-0 with 19:35 left in the game.

A pair of power plays – one for each team – over the middle portion of the period failed to result in goals, but then both squads nearly scored soon after. First Colgate’s Robbie Bourdon bounced one off the crossbar, and then St. Lawrence’s Sean McGovern was denied one-on-one by Mihalik near the 8-minute mark.

Officials reviewed the Bourdon attempt and confirmed that it struck the crossbar, keeping the score 3-0.

Bartliff Gets One Back

Colgate then narrowed the gap with its first goal of the night when Kurtis Bartliff scored from right in front off an assist by John Lidgett. It was Bartliff’s ninth goal of the season and his first since the Feb. 22 Union game.

But St. Lawrence answered a little more than a minute later when Justin Baker fired home a rebound of Flanagan’s near miss. The Saints were back on top 4-1 with 5:15 remaining.

Flanagan’s assist on the play was the 100th of his career, and Vaughan recognized the role seniors played this weekend for the Saints.

“Their best players were their best players in this series,” he said. “Flanagan and Carey and (Jeremy) Wick, and Hughes played phenomenal for them on the back end.

“It’s the ECAC and anybody can win it, but if that St. Lawrence plays the way they did this weekend then they’re going to be in the mix.”

Vaughan pulled Mihalik from the net for the final two minutes, but the Raiders couldn’t mount the comeback.

Colgate outshot St. Lawrence 28-26, but the Saints converted 3-of-6 power play opportunities to the Raiders’ 0-of-3 for the difference in the game. St. Lawrence, now 18-14-4, advances to next week’s ECAC Hockey Quarterfinal Round.

Despite Colgate’s season ending at 14-18-4, Vaughan remains positive about the future.

“We’ve got a great group of young kids and they’re only going to get better,” he said. “This experience will help them.”