Colgate Raiders Hockey has a Bittersweet Weekend

The Colgate Raiders Mens Hockey Team advanced to the semifinal of the ECAC Tournament, while the Women’s Team fell in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.

Men’s

The Colgate Raiders Men’s Hockey Team (18-17-4 overall, 9-9-4 ECAC) had a huge weekend in the quarterfinals of the ECAC Tournament. The fifth-seeded Raiders defeated the fourth-seeded Cornell Big Red (18-9-4 overall, 12-6-4 ECAC) two games to one in a thrilling best of three series in which all games were played on Cornell’s home ice in Ithaca, NY.

In game one on Friday night, the Raiders got on the board first on a Matt Verboon goal. Cornell tied the game early in the third period on a Ben Berard goal, and then went ahead on a Matt Stienburg goal with only one minute and twenty-eight seconds left. An empty-net goal forty seconds later by Kyle Penney sealed the 3-1 game one victory for the Big Red.

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The following night, the Raiders used a three-goal second period to seal a 4-2 win and tie the series at one. Alex Young (one goal and one assist) and Nick Anderson (two assists) led the Raiders in points with Young, Ross Mitton, Jeff Stewart, and Matt Verboon scoring the Colgate goals. Mitch Benson made twenty-five saves to earn his first victory of the series. Stienburg led the Big Red in scoring with one goal and one assist, and Ben Berard joined Stienburg in scoring a goal on both Friday and Saturday nights.

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Colgate’s victory on Saturday night set up a showdown on Sunday with the winner moving on in the tournament and the loser going home. Cornell peppered Colgate goaltender Mitch Benson through the first two periods, registering twenty-seven shots on goal compared to only ten for the visitors. Despite the discrepancy in shots, it was the Raiders who scored first on a second-period goal by Matt Verboon – who scored in all three games of the series.

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In the third period, Ross Mitton scored a breakaway goal to put the Raiders up by two. Benson continued his spectacular play and nearly completed the shutout, but Berard scored with eight seconds left (like Verboon, Berard scored in all three games) to get Cornell within one. There wasn’t enough time left for the Big Red however and the Raiders skated away with a 2-1 victory on the strength of Benson’s thirty-six save performance. With the win, the Raiders advance to the semifinals of the ECAC Tournament in Lake Placid, NY where they will face the number one seed and sixth-ranked nationally Quinnipiac Bobcats (30-5-3 overall, 17-4-1 ECAC). The game will take place on Friday night, with the winner advancing to the championship game on Saturday night.

Women’s

The Colgate Women’s Hockey Team (30-8-1 overall, 16-5-1 ECAC) had an outstanding season, rising to the number four ranking in the USCHO Division I National Poll. They also won the ECAC championship, capping off their tournament victory with a 2-1 overtime win over the Yale Bulldogs (26-8-1 overall, 16-5-1 ECAC, ranked sixth in the USCHO National Poll).

One week after the ECAC championship game, the two teams met again – this time in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Tournament. This game would result in a 2-1 overtime win as well, but in a twist of fate for the Raiders, it was Yale who skated away with the victory. After trading first-period goals by Yale’s Vita Poniatovskala and Colgate’s Kaitlyn O’Donohoe, goaltenders Hannah Murphy (Colgate) and Gianna Meloni (Yale) took over. They combined to keep the game scoreless until Tess Dettling scored early in the first overtime period for Yale to vault her team into the semifinals and simultaneously end Colgate’s season.

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