Belfast, Northern Ireland – Behind a pair of goals by Ben Sharf, the Colgate men's hockey program earned a 3-1 win over Princeton on Friday evening to advance to the Friendship Four Championship at SSE Arena.
At the home of the Belfast Giants, the Raiders will look to claim the Belpot Trophy tomorrow against No. 12/13 Northeastern.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Although conference foes that just saw each other a week ago, the neutral site matchup featured a slow start as the teams adjusted to the new Olympic-sized surface and atmosphere. There was action at either end of the ice and neutral zone slides until Colgate faced its first kill of the night midway through. The Raiders checked off its first of three successful kills, a momentum-builder for the squad heading into their first man advantage.
As the Raiders went on the power play, senior John Snodgrass was ready with the putaway at the doorstep with just 12.7 remaining in the opening period. Behind the tally, Colgate went to the locker room with a 1-0 lead.
Just as any ECAC matchup is, it was a narrow battle that would be answered. Princeton returned to the ice and responded by scoring on a wide angle shot just 1:21 after the drop of the puck. Just 3:00 later though, senior Ben Sharf rejuvenated the bench as he sealed the snipe to regain the lead for the Raiders.
The pace began to slow midway through regulation as the game became more physical, and although Colgate saw a pair of power play chances before the horn, it would remain a one-goal game heading into the third.
Colgate gained more time with the man advantage early, including one that was spent almost entirely in the Tiger zone, but the clock expired before they could increase its lead.
That is, until Sharf struck again.
Just seconds after the Tiger returned, the momentum flowed over for the Raiders as the senior scored his second of the night for a two-goal advantage with just 7:33 remaining in regulation.
Although Princeton would pull its goaltender, the Raiders would prevail against the extra skater to earn a 3-1 win and advance to the Friendship Four Championship.
COLGATE SCORING PLAYS
• Period 1 | 19:47 – While on the man advantage, Trevor Cosgrove picked the puck out of the corner and swung it around the back of the net up to Bobby McMann at the point. His shot hit the pads, but Snodgrass was ready at the edge of the crease to tuck it in.
• Period 2 | 04:21 – Just minutes after Princeton's tally, a Colgate drive down the sheet flooded the zone. McMann made a spinning attempt at the net, before Paul Meyer swooped in for the rebound. It was when Ben Sharf came in that he capitalized on the rebound to regain the lead.
• Period 3 | 12:27 – The puck was picked up off a turnover and landed on the stick of Meyer. His quick read sent it to the left boards in the neutral zone to Henry Marshall. Chipped ahead to Sharf, he swung along the boards and his shot from the bottom of the circle fluttered through the five hole for a 3-1 edge.
• With his two tallies, senior Ben Sharf recorded his first multi-goal game in his career. It also marks his second game-winner of the season since scoring the overtime game-winner at then-No. 18 UMass Lowell (Oct. 18).
• In his second straight start, sophomore goaltender Andrew Farrier recorded 28 saves, including a game-high of 13 in the third period. Farrier improves to 2-0-0 on the season with a 0.84 goals against average and .972 save percentage.
• Now on a two-game scoring streak is senior John Snodgrass, as he earned the opening goal on the power play.
• Behind a pair of assists, senior Bobby McMann earned his second multi-point night of the season. The captain now holds five points through the last five games.
• Also picking up two apples was senior Paul Meyer for his first multi-point night of the season.
• For the eighth time this season, the Raiders held its opponent scoreless on the power play.
THE BOTTOM LINE
• Colgate 3, Princeton 1
• Colgate holds a 5-6-4 record, and a 3-2-1 mark in ECAC Hockey action.
• Princeton is 1-5-3 overall on the season and is 0-4-2 in ECAC play.
COACH VAUGHAN'S TAKE
"The last time we were here, it wasn't fun. So that was something I've been thinking about a bit – that we just didn't play the way we were capable of. Tonight we did a really good job of that and we managed the puck really well in the third period. They earned what they got. It was a very close game and it's hard to win.
"Andrew Farrier played well in goal and he's seeing it really well and Sharf had a great night. But we had a lot of contributions from everyone up and down our lineup and that's what you need on a big ice surface like that. It takes a little more out of you than playing on a regulation rink so we were able to roll our lines which was huge."
On the goal at the end of the third: "It was anyone's game at that point and it was scored on the power play. We had some better looks tonight on the power play. That's what Snodgrass does – he's so good in front of the net and the puck found a way onto his stick. He didn't have a lot of room and he thread the needle on that one.
"Just really pleased for the guys that we get to play for a trophy tomorrow."
Colgate will now compete for the Belpot Trophy tomorrow, Nov. 30, against No. 12/13 Northeastern. The puck drops on the championship at 7 p.m. local / 2 p.m. eastern time at SSE 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.