Raiders Clinch First Round Home Ice with Win vs. Rensselaer

Photo by Dave Kibbe
Photo by Dave Kibbe

TROY, N.Y. – Paul McAvoy (Richmond, Kentucky) scored a pair of goals to power the Colgate men's ice hockey team's offense 32857 Saturday night and led the Raiders to a 5-2 victory over the Rensselaer Engineers at Houston Field House.
Colgate finished league play in the 2017-18 season with 23 points and secured a tie for fifth place with Dartmouth. Due to Dartmouth's 11 league wins compared to Colgate's 10, the Raiders will be the No. 6 seed in the ECAC Hockey Tournament and host No. 11 seed Rensselaer in the best-of-three first round series next weekend at Class of 1965 Arena.
The Raiders came into the season picked to finish 11thin the ECAC Hockey Preseason Coaches Poll and 12th in the Media poll but spent much of the season in the middle of the standings. Colgate's home first round series next weekend will be its first at Class of 1965 Arena and first home playoff series since the 2014-15 ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals.
McAvoy's two-goal performance was the first of his career as his second goal came at a pivotal moment in the game. Hunter Racine (Ottawa, Ontario) recorded his third goal of the season while Henry Marshall (New Canaan) potted his second and Jared Cockrell (Readfield, Maine) tallied an empty-netter for his eighth of the year.
Midway through the third period, Rensselaer pulled back within a goal at 3-2 on Jacob Hayhurst's second goal of the game. Just over five minutes later, Jacob Panetta (Belleville, Ontario) made a great play to swipe the puck off the goal line after a Colton Point (North Bay, Ontario) save. Panetta made a pass up to Tyler Penner (Winnipeg, Manitoba) on the right wing before he found McAvoy in the slot. McAvoy snapped the puck past Rensselaer goaltender Linden Marshall's glove side and reclaimed the two-goal lead.
Cockrell provided a key empty-net goal with 2:33 to go in the game after a Mike Panowyk (Whitby, Ontario) blocked shot to put the Engineers away, 5-2, and secure the win.
Rensselaer initially took a 1-0 lead just 32 seconds into the game on Hayhurst's first of the night. Colgate battled throughout the period until Racine tied up the game with 2:10 left in the first period. Bobby McMann (Wainwright Alberta) received a pass on the left boards as he entered the neutral zone and waited patiently for Racine streaking up the right side. McMann hit him with a cross-zone pass and Racine roofed the shot over back-up goaltender Chase Perry's glove side. Perry came into the game for Rensselaer after starter Linden Marshall's skate broke earlier in the opening stanza.
The Raiders added a pair of goals early in the second period to take a 3-1 lead on the Engineers. Tyler Jeanson(Carman, Manit32858 oba) collected a turnover in the neutral zone and skated into the left circle before firing a shot on Linden Marshall. The rebound kicked out and an RPI defender tried to swipe the puck out but McAvoy was there to bury the goal for his first of the game.
Henry Marshall doubled the Raiders lead to two goals at 3-1 with 12:01 to go in the second period. Ben Sharf(Williamsville, New York) worked the puck up the wing to Nick Austin (St. Louis Park, Minnesota) who ripped a shot on goal but Marshall was parked in front of the net to perfectly redirect home the puck.
Colgate 5, Rensselaer 2
The Raiders returned to .500 at 14-14-6 (10-9-3 ECAC Hockey) and extended its unbeaten streak to three games while the Engineers lost their fifth straight game and fell to 5-25-4 (4-16-2 ECAC Hockey)
-McAvoy recorded his first career multi-goal game with a pair of goals against Rensselaer
-Point was solid once again in goal for the Raiders with 34 saves to earn his 13th win of the season
-Saturday marked eight straight games for Point in which he has allowed two goals or fewer
-The Raiders finished the regular season with 14 wins and 10 league wins, it's most since finishing the 2014-15 season with 19 wins and 11 in league play
-Racine netted his third goal of the season, and second straight against the Engineers, in the first period
-Henry Marshall scored his second of the season, both of which have come against Rensselaer
-Cockrell's empty-netter was his eighth goal of the season
-McMann tied John Snodgrass (Eagan, Minnesota) for the team lead with his 14th assist of the season and extended his team lead with 28 points
-McMann now has a point in five straight games
-Willie Brooks (Locust, New Jersey) picked up his fifth assist of the season and first since the third game of the season
-Austin recorded an assist for a second straight night to give him 11 on the season
-Jeanson recorded his 10th point of the season with his sixth assist
-Jeanson is the ninth player with double-digit points
-Sharf notched his sixth assist of the season as well, first since Feb. 10 at Clarkson32859
-Panetta and Penner recorded their fifth and fourth assists of the season, respectively
-Trevor Cosgrove (Exeter, New Hampshire) picked up his 11th helper while Panowyk recorded his eighth; good for his 16th point
-Rensselaer outshot Colgate 36-19, including 22-4 in the third period
-Neither team scored a power-play goal on Saturday as the Raiders went 0 for 2 and the Engineers were just 0 for 1
-Rensselaer also held a 38-30 edge in faceoffs
Head Coach Don Vaughan
On winning Saturday night's game "Tonight was a lot closer than the score. RPI had some really good looks late. We had a couple of great individual performances tonight, especially Paul McAvoy made a couple really great plays."
On earning home ice "We're a young team and we were picked to finish last so here we are tied in fifth place with a winning record. I'm really proud of our guys. They've come a long way this year. For a young team, home ice can be an advantage and we are a young team. We've played better at home than on the road."
On facing RPI next weekend "There's no given and our guys know that. We've been the 12-seed and beat the five-seed then gone on to beat the one-seed in program. We have first-hand knowledge that anything can happen so we're not going to take this team lightly just because we beat them tonight."
The Raiders kick off ECAC Hockey postseason play net weekend when they host the Engineers in a best-of-three first round series beginning Friday night at Class of 1965 Arena with puck drop set for 7 p.m.