Friday, September 5, 2014

Know Your Enemy: Colgate

Last year, we pondered that Colgate looked a lot like RPI did in 2012-13. The end result? A 2nd place finish, just like that Engineers team accomplished, and in a similar fashion - a sophomore class leading the way with scoring, and a freshman between the pipes who caught fire and lifted the team. Suddenly, they look a lot like RPI did coming into last season - and if they don't suffer the same fate the Engineers did in net injurywise, the sky could be the limit.

Nickname: Raiders
Location: Hamilton, NY
Founded: 1819
Conference: ECAC
National Championships: 0
Last NCAA Appearance: 2014
Last Frozen Four: 1990
Coach: Don Vaughan (22nd season)
2013-14 Record: 20-14-5 (13-6-3 ECAC, 2nd place) 
Series: RPI leads, 60-56-4
First Game: February 19, 1916 (Hamilton, NY) 
Last RPI win: November 9, 2013 (Troy, NY)
Last CU win: February 4, 2012 (Troy, NY)

2014-15 games: January 16, 2015 (Troy, NY); February 21, 2015 (Hamilton, NY)

Key players: D Brendan Corcoran, sr.; F Daniel Gentzler, sr.; F John Lidgett, sr.; F Joe Wilson, sr.; D Spiro Goulakos, sr.; F Kyle Baun, jr.; F Michael Borkowski, jr.; D Ryan Johnston, jr.; D Kevin Lough, jr.; F Darcy Murphy, jr.; F Tylor Spink, jr.; F Tyson Spink, jr.; F Andrew Black, so.; D Brett Corkey, so.; G Charlie Finn, so.; F Tim Harrison, so.; F Jake Kulevich, so.; F Mike Panowyk, fr.

Key losses: F Mike McCann

Previous KYE installments:
For many RPI fans, their impression on Colgate netminder Charlie Finn is the bizarre, bouncing puck goal Guy Leboeuf scored on him during a penalty-kill in the first period of the game in Troy, followed by the yank he got early in the second period after allowing a third goal on just seven shots. A better impression, however, would be the 41 saves on 42 shots he posted against RPI in Hamilton three months later, stonewalling the Engineers completely until Ryan Haggerty scored in the final minute of regulation to force overtime and an eventual draw. That performance was far closer to the way he played the vast majority of his freshman season.

The Raiders bring back their top eight goal-scorers and top nine point producers from a season ago, anchored by their fab five juniors-to-be, Murphy, Borkowski, Baun, and the Spink twins. Throughout the season, Baun was on a line with the Spinks, and Murphy and Borkowski also keyed a scoring line, both of these combinations proving dangerous for the opposition.

Ultimately, Colgate last season was a team that revolved around getting their offense going. Having a strong defensive showing is always good and it tended to work out for the Raiders, but in games like the aformentioned RPI-Colgate tilt in Hamilton and their final game of the season, a 1-0 loss to Ferris State in the NCAA tournament, the offense definitely needed to be clicking in order for Colgate to be successful. Another year of experience for their core should help in that field immensely.

Nationally, the Raiders were average all around - offense, defense, penalty kill, and power play were all somewhere in the middle compared to the rest of the nation. But make no mistake about it - this is now a much more seasoned squad that is ready to take longer strides. Once again, they're easy to compare to the Engineers at this time last year. They've lost no major cogs - McCann was a solid offensive producer but not the most crucial - and they don't have too many major flaws in their game with the exception of offensive consistency.

These next two seasons should be exciting for the Raiders and their fans. A new rink is on the horizon in the not too distant future, and the components are in place for a Colgate team that's going to be difficult to beat. RPI may have taken three points from the Raiders last season, but they'll need to put up a stronger effort this year in order to duplicate the feat, especially considering how flukish the game in Troy now appears. Colgate is, without doubt, a team ready to contend for the very top of the ECAC this season.

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