The Colgate men’s hockey program opened the 2019-20 campaign by hosting RIT at Class of 1965 Arena on Homecoming. Although the Raiders fell in a 3-1 final, the hockey program honored longtime Colgate community member Ron Baker and his family throughout the game with a sold out arena.
RIT was first to get on the board as a Tiger poked the puck out from between the Colgate defenders and found the top-shelf for a 1-0 lead just 3:11 into the game. The visitors then built a quick 2-0 lead behind a power play goal midway through the opening stanza.
Just minutes after RIT increased its lead, the Raiders were able to get back within one as Josh McKechney scored on the power play for Colgate’s first goal of the season. The one-goal game would hold through the opening period. Another quick attack, RIT capitalized on an early Colgate penalty with a trickling puck through traffic for a 3-1 advantage just minutes into the second period.
The third period was one riddled with penalties, starting with an early Colgate kill just minutes in. After the clean kill, the teams would pass the man advantage back and forth until RIT was served a five-and-game with 9:18 remaining in regulation after a crosschecking call in the corner. The Tigers were able to burn the major, but not without the pressure of the Colgate offense.
As the clock ticked down the Raiders tallied quality chances at the net, including a wrist shot by Nick Austin to the glove side, and a late sneak into the crease by Matt Verboon. The time in the RIT zone would continue to add up as the Raiders opted for the extra skater, but the Tigers would hold out for the 3-1 win in the season opener.
COLGATE SCORING PLAY
• Period 1 | 10:06 – While tied up along the boards, Jeff Stewart poked the puck out to Ross Craig at center ice. Craig fed the puck from the right hashmarks to Josh McKechney in the slot, before McKechney made it a one-goal game with his top shelf tally.
• The first Colgate goal of the season came by the shot of junior Josh McKechney. The Calgary native earned four goals and 11 assists last season for the second-most points on the squad.
• Picking up the apples on Colgate’s lone goal was senior Ross Craig and sophomore Jeff Stewart. Last season the duo totaled one and seven points, respectively.
• The Raiders outshot RIT by a 34-14 margin, and held the Tigers to just two shots on goal in the third period. Colgate tallied 30-plus shots on goal on nine occasions last season.
• Hungry to get on the scoresheet, junior Nick Austin led the squad with six shots on goal.
• Colgate played before a sold out crowd of 2,278. It’s the first sellout at Class of 1965 Arena since the Raiders hosted Cornell on Jan. 20, 2017.
THE BOTTOM LINE
• RIT 3, Colgate 1
• Colgate opens with a 0-1-0 record.
• RIT starts its season 1-0-0 overall.
COACH VAUGHAN’S TAKE
“There were some similarities in our game to last year, but scoring first is huge in any league and they scored on their first shot. RIT got the momentum, then our guys started to press a little just based on where we’ve been. Special teams are rusty, but both our penalty kill and power play need to be better. The difference in the game tonight was two power play goals. We had a lot of offensive zone possession time and I was pleased with that. We threw a lot of pucks towards the net. But when you’re down like that the guys start to press, trying to force plays, and are chasing the game.
“You work for your luck, and I was happy with the effort of a lot of guys. We need to keep leaning on them, rest tomorrow, then get to the video and clean up a few things before our quick turnaround.
On remembering longtime Colgate community member Ron Baker with the night’s events: “I’m very flattered that we were able to help the Baker family. It was great to partner with the fraternities and sororities, and a ton of credit to Ben Sharf for the work he did coordinating it. It means a lot. Generations of Colgate hockey players were influenced by Ron dating back to events in the 80s. He’s touched a lot of former and current Colgate players, so I’m glad that we could do our small part to help the family through this hard time.”
The Colgate men’s hockey program is on the road for continued nonconference action when it travels to Big Rapids, Michigan to face Ferris State. Game time is set for 7:07 p.m. against the WCHA foe on Thursday, Oct. 10.
The Raiders then return to Class of 1965 Arena on Sunday, Oct. 13 to host Boston College.