Colgate Skates to Tie at Merrimack

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – In a tough physical battle, the Colgate men’s hockey team played great team defense and Joe Wilson scored the Raiders’ lone goal in a 1-1 tie against Merrimack on Friday evening.

Colgate (6-6-2) moved its unbeaten streak to three games and tied 1-1 with the Warriors for the second-straight year. Wilson scored his second of the year with the assist to Brendan Corcoran. Spencer Finney once again played extremely well in net and is 2-0-1 in his last three appearances. He made 23 saves and earned the first star.

The Raiders defense came up big again and has allowed just one goal in the last two games.

“Collectively we played well defensively,” said head coach Don Vaughan. “Our penalty kill was exceptional once again and it showed as we had to kill off another five-minute major. Jeremy Price and Thomas Larkin continue to lead the way back there for us.”

Merrimack (4-6-2) saw Mike Collins score its lone goal of the game in the first period for his team-leading seventh of the season. Assists went to Brendan Ellis and Dan Kolomatis. Rasumus Tirronen got the start in net for the home team and pushed aside 21 shots in the tie.

The Warriors were able to get on the board first with Collins scoring his seventh goal of the season and the leading point-getter in Hockey East got his 15th point of the year. Ellis took a shot from the right side of the blueline that Finney pushed aside, but Collins was there for the cleanup and the 1-0 lead.

The first period was a physical one and Merrimack led in shots by an 11-3 margin, but two of the three shots for Colgate were quality chances by Kyle Baun and Kurtis Bartliff. Both were right on the doorstep and Tirronen made the save each time.

Colgate evened it up at 4:51 into the second frame with Wilson adding his second of the season to make it 1-1. Brendan Corcoran fired a shot from the point that deflected off a Merrimack defender. Wilson then fought off a check in front and beat Tirronen to the near post. It was Wilson’s fifth point in the last three games and two have come as goals.

The Raider defense stepped up in the second period as well. Colgate killed off another five-minute major, which was the second one in the last two contests. The Raiders needed a regular kill towards the end of the frame and got a couple of big stops by Finney to keep it at a 1-1 draw into the final period.

The final period was played evenly as each team had seven shots on goal. Each team got two chances on the power play, but neither could capitalize. Colgate had the best chances in the frame with Baun and Bartliff putting shots on net from just above the crease, but Tirronen made both stops.

The Raiders were able to kill off the fifth power play for the Warriors late in the third period to force the game into overtime. The penalty kill once again stepped up and it did all night long.

“We hounded the puck and our penalty kill has been clicking as of late, and most of the year” said Price. “We did a great job buckling down while down a man. It’s a big confidence thing right now. We are jumping over the boards and knowing we are going to kill it off.”

In overtime, Colgate had a great chance as Merrimack was called for at trip late in the extra frame.

Baun had the best opportunity as he got the puck in front and tried to sweep the puck away from Tirronen with a pivot in front, but the Merrimack netminder paddled it out of the crease. Colgate had three shots to Merrimack’s one in the extra period, but the game ended in a 1-1 tie.

“Spencer played great in goal for us tonight,” said Vaughan. “I thought our effort was great tonight and we won a lot of puck battles after the first period, so our guys respondeda to a tough building to play in.”

Colgate will be back in action next weekend with St. Lawrence and Clarkson coming to Starr Rink for Silver Puck Weekend. Friday night’s game against the Saints will be broadcasted on Time Warner Cable Sports in Central New York.

NOTES: First non-conference game in Mass. since 2009-10 when the Raiders went to UMass Lowell … First of three games against a Hockey East opponent this season … Finney’s shutout streak ended at 96 minutes and change … Wilson has 10 points with two goals and eight assists and is tied for second on the team in points … only the second time this season Colgate went into the third period tied with opponent … Colgate and Merrimack went to overtime for the second-straight season and ended in a 1-1 tie.