HAMILTON – Some of the best players in the world showed out on Sunday afternoon at Class of 1965 Arena.
The Raiders took on Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays of China and the CWHL in their lone exhibition game of the season in what turned into a great opportunity for Colgate's seven freshmen to dip their toes into the water of college hockey and for the stars to shine.
Olivia Zafuto shined the brightest on Sunday afternoon, as the senior defenseman had a pair of highlight reel goals. Her first was the ice-breaker in the first period when she took a feed from Kendall Williamson at the top of the right point, walked in and fired one off the crossbar and in past Rays netminder Noora Raty.
Zafuto's blast held up through 20 minutes and the Raiders doubled up on their lead in the second period thanks to a new face. Midway through the frame, freshman Eleri MacKay was the beneficiary of hard work and luck to give Colgate a 2-0 lead. She fore checked a Ray defenseman deep in her own end and forced her to play the puck into an odd carom that came in front of the goal where MacKay quickly played it past Raty to the far side.
Vanke, who has a myriad of former collegiate stars on their roster, came alive after MacKay's goal. The Rays scored three unanswered tallies, which included a pair from former Northeastern Husky Rachel Llanes.
Midway through the third period, Zafuto struck again to even the score. In a similar manner to her first marker, she unloaded on a slap shot that blew past the shoulder of Raty on the power play. Classmate Shae Labbe was credited with the lone assist on the play and she wasn't done on the scoresheet for the day after that.
After the Rays retook the lead at 4-3 with 1:56 to play in the third period, Labbe was in the right place at the right time to deadlock the score again. Freshman Rosalie Demers tossed the puck into the crease area towards a horde of players and Labbe's stick was the first to make contact, as she beat Raty low with just 15 seconds to spare.
Following Labbe's last minute goal, the teams played a five-minute overtime period. Senior Jessie Eldridge had the best chance of the session when she won a faceoff forward in the offensive zone and just missed the potential game-winner over the top of the cage.
- Colgate 4, Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays 4 (OT)
Facts & Figures
- With the tie, the Raiders are now unbeaten in their last seven exhibition games, which dates back to the 2011-12 season.
- Three of Colgate's four goalies split time in the net on Sunday. Senior Julia Vandyk stopped all six shots she saw in the first period. Junior Liz Auby made six saves on seven shots in the second. And freshman Alexa Dobchuk finished with eight saves on 11 shots.
- Zafuto had previously scored two goals in a game once in her career, which was on January 20 of this year against RPI.
- All eight newcomers made an appearance in the game, which includes freshmen Rosalie Demers, Nemo Neubauerova, Delani MacKay, Eleri MacKay, Charlie Mailhot, Tanner Gates, Alexa Dobchuk and junior Caroline Ross
'Gate Grab Bag
- Attendance at Class of 1965 Arena was 432.
- The Raiders wore their alternate gray uniforms on Sunday. A few numbers will be switched when they open up the regular season next weekend with brand new jerseys.
From the Source
Head Coach Greg Fargo
"There were a lot of good things from our team," said Fargo. "Our focus today was to try and be good with the things we've practiced so far and we accomplished that. I liked a lot of things we did away from the puck."
On playing an exhibition before the regular season:
"It's been a short preseason, but that's why you schedule an exhibition, to see where you're at," said Fargo. "It was nice to see a few different line combinations and defense pairs and see three goalies. It's always good to get this many people in."
On the seven freshmen:
"They fit right in," said Fargo. "All of them played well tonight. They were a part of our offense and all three zones and they were confident in making plays. Good effort all around and it was nice to see some new faces in a Colgate jersey."
- Colgate will begin their 22nd regular season on Friday night when it hosts Penn State inside Class of 1965 Arena.
- Puck drop is set for 6 p.m.