HAMILTON – Colgate's hard work the last few weeks paid dividends in a big way Friday night as the Raiders took down Yale 2-1 at the Class of 1965 Arena.
Colgate scored its two goals in a 78-second span of the first period.
Colton Young finished an offensive rush by redirecting a perfect pass from Arnaud Vachon at 7:49, and then Paul McAvoy poked home a rebound at 9:07 after Matt Verboon's initial shot was turned aside.
The Raiders after that withstood charge after charge from Yale, including three consecutive penalty kills over the second and third periods. Colgate nearly pocketed a pair of short-handed goals, with Vachon having the best chance late in the second.
Yale finally broke through at 2:03 of the third period when Curtis Hall's one-timer found the twine over Colgate goaltender Mitch Benson's right shoulder. Justin Pearson dug the puck out for Yale along the back boards and found Hall in the slot.
But that's all Benson allowed, finishing with 34 saves and pushing the Raiders into the win column on Colgate's opening night of the ECAC Hockey season.
The Raiders were sharp last Friday in a 3-3 tie at No. 7 Providence, capping a stretch that saw them go 1-1-3 over the latter portion of their preconference schedule. Of Colgate's opening eight games, four were against ranked opponents.
The Raiders went 1-1-2 in those four and are a better team to show for it.
• Period 1 | 7:49 – Colgate struck first when Colton Young was the beneficiary of a perfect Arnaud Vachon assist. Jared Cockrell got the play started when he emerged from a pile of Bulldogs with the puck along the far boards. Cockrell found Vachon racing up ice and Vachon was able to set up Young right on the doorstep for the redirect.
• Period 1 | 9:07 – The Raiders made it 2-0 in a flash. Still applying pressure after that opening tally, Colgate's Matt Verboon got free for a shot from the right point that was saved by Yale's Corbin Kaczperski. Except that it was saved right to the stick of Colgate's Paul McAvoy, who didn't miss on the easy tuckaway.
• McAvoy has three goals in his last four games, while Young begins his first scoring streak in his career by scoring for the second game in a row.
• Vachon had a breakaway short-handed attempt late in the second but it was saved.
• Benson lowered his goals-against average to 2.69 and raised his save percentage to .917 behind his fourth 30-plus save performance of the season.
• Colgate outshot Yale 17-7 in the first period, but the Bulldogs turned the tables over the next two and finished with a 35-24 edge in shots on goal.
• Third-period shots favored Yale by a 14-1 count.
• The first penalty of the game wasn't until 16:04 of the second period. Colgate was whistled three times to Yale's one.
• Colgate held its opponent scoreless on the power play for the fifth consecutive game.
THE BOTTOM LINE
• Colgate 2, Yale 1
• Colgate improved to 2-4-3 overall. Friday night was the team's ECAC Hockey opener.
• Yale dropped to 1-2-0 overall and in ECAC play.
COACH VAUGHAN'S TAKE
On the game: "I was pleased with the start. Clearly we were great out of the gate. Our penalty kill was exceptional tonight. Your best penalty-killer has to be your goalie, and Mitch Benson was that tonight for us, for sure.
"(Assistant coach) Brett Riley is working with our PK guys and they're really buying in. They are sacrificing their bodies, they're blocking a lot of shots and they are playing aggressively. They have some confidence, and that was a big part of the win tonight."
On the preconference buildup: "We've had a tough schedule to start the season against some of the top teams in the country, and we've learned a lot from that. But you have to learn how to win, and that's what we did tonight. We took a big step in finding a way to win a game. In a close game when we gave up an early goal in the third, we found a way to come out of there with a W."
On the early goals: "We fired a lot at them early and got them back on their heels. Paul McAvoy has just been playing the game the right way. He deserves everything he's getting right now and he's been a huge plus for us this year. The good start was important, obviously, and we were able to hang onto that win."
• Colgate continues Silver Puck Weekend Saturday with a matinee matchup against Brown.
• The Bears lost 4-1 Friday night at Cornell to fall to 1-2-0 for the season.
• Note the 4 p.m. start time from the Class of 1965 Arena.
FOLLOW THE RAIDERS
For more information on the Colgate men's hockey program, follow the Raiders on Twitter @ColgateMIH and Instagram at colgate_mih.