Colgate takes down Harvard for ECAC crown

Raiders win first conference title since 1990

Colgate players and staff celebrate after defeating Harvard 3-2 to win the program’s first ECAC title since 1990 on Saturday, March 18 in Lake Placid. (News photo — Parker O’Brien)

LAKE PLACID — As the head coach of the Colgate Raiders men’s hockey team for the past 31 seasons, Don Vaughan has seen his team play its fair share of games in Lake Placid.

But on Saturday, March 18, when his Raiders team defeated the Harvard Crimson 3-2 to win their first ECAC title since 1990, Vaughan was overwhelmed with a bunch of different emotions.

“It felt like a film or a DVD — or whatever you use these days — on fast forward,” Vaughan said. “Everything was just racing through my mind.”

With the Raiders leading 3-2 in the final minutes of the title game on March 18, the Crimson gave everything they could, pouring on shot after shot with the hopes of keeping the ECAC championship title.

However, Colgate’s Carter Gylander — who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player — was up for the task, shutting down every shot he faced in those final minutes.

“When he plays like he did this weekend, he gives us a chance to win any game,” Vaughan said. “That game is in him and its in him more than it isn’t. We’re lucky to have him.”

Gylander, who spent most of the title game dealing with cramps, came away with 34 saves en route to the program’s second conference title and the first under Vaughan.

“Somebody along the way said, ‘Good things come to those who wait,'” Vaughan said. “Well, I’ve been here for 30 years, so for me I’m really thrilled to be in this position with a championship going back to Colgate and our great fans and university.”

Colgate, which came into the tournament as the fifth-seed, got on the board early when Ethan Manderville skated behind the Harvard net and made a pass to a crashing Colton Young on a powerplay.

Young then rifled the puck into the back of the net at 1:01 into the first period.

“Coming out we wanted the first goal,” Young said. “We wanted to put the pressure on Harvard and make them defend us. We just stuck to our game plan and executed it.”

The Raiders extended its lead to 2-0, a little under 12 minutes later when Colton’s younger brother Alex poked the puck away from a Harvard defenseman on the Colgate blue line before skating on a two-on-one with his brother into the Crimson defensive zone.

“I looked quickly and was trying to pass it underneath a defenseman’s stick and he kind of took it away off the slide,” Alex Young said. “I just kind of pulled it back to get a shot and luckily was just able to hang on to it long enough that everybody kind of moved out of the way for me and slid it into the net.”

In the second period, the Crimson’s Henry Thrun made it 2-1 on a riffle from the point. But the Raiders responded just three minutes later when Levi Glasman swatted a puck in mid-air to make give his team a two-goal advantage.

Trailing 3-1 in the third period, Harvard’s sophomore forward Matthew Coronato — who netted the overtime winner in last year’s ECAC championship — scored on the powerplay with 7:05 remaining in regulation to bring the game within one.

But Gylander, along with Colgate’s defensive unit, which recorded 36 blocked shots in the contest, held strong. Vaughan said his team practiced blocking shots all week in practice.

“We knew we’d have to make that sacrifice against a team that’s that skilled,” Vaughan said. “We capitalized on our opportunities and we were able to play — I thought — a very good defensive game and defended hard. That’s part of defending hard, sacrificing your body to block shots. It’s all a part of winning.”

On Friday, March 17, the Raiders defeated the top-seeded Quinnipiac 2-1 in double overtime to advance to the title game and despite coming to Lake Placid as the only non-nationally ranked team according to PairWise rankings, Vaughan said he never once thought that his team couldn’t win the ECAC title.

“We had a plan in place and the biggest thing about having a plan in place is the process of making sure the guys buy into that all year long even when we had a couple of hiccups,” he said.

Colgate improved to 19-15-5 with the victory and clinched an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The win on March 18, was the only way the Raiders would have advanced to the NCAA tournament.

“We knew in our heads that this was our season,” Colton Young said. “This was the game that determined our season. Harvard can obviously move on. This was for us to keep playing. They won the championship last year and this was our turn. I think that speaks to our desperation.”

The NCAA Division I men’s hockey tournament field was announced on March 19, Cornell, Harvard and Quinnipiac all receive d at-large bids into the tournament. While Colgate will surely be an underdog in the NCAA tournament, Vaughan said you never know what can happen.

“I remember in 2015, we were the last team out of the tournament that year. I think Providence was the last team in and we know what Providence did that year,” Vaughan said, referencing Providence’s national championship run. “It’s possible, it’s been done.”

Colgate 2, Quinnipiac 1 (2 OT)

Colgate’s Ross Mitton scored at 8:50 into the second overtime to give Colgate a 2-1 victory over the Quinnipiac Bobcats on Friday, March 17.

“(Alex) DiPaolo got the puck in the slot and just put it on the net,” Mitton said. “I was just at the net to finish it.”

The Raiders’ Daniel Panetta scored in the first period to make the game 1-0. Gylander had 40 saves for Colgate, which advanced to their first ECAC title game since 2014. Glasman, DiPaolo and Matt Verboon each had an assist.

“Our thought process — or our system — was just to get shots on this goalie,” Mitton said. “We know that he hasn’t seen a lot of shots this year.”

Ethan de Jong scored the lone goal for the Bobcats, which came in the third period. Collin Graff and Zach Metsa recorded assists. Quinnipiac netminder, Yaniv Perets, had 45 saves.

“Mitton and Gylander were the two best players on the ice tonight,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “Yaniv was right there with them as the best three. I give a lot of credit to Don Vaughan for getting his team ready. They were confident, they made plays.

“For us, we just didn’t play well. We had a lot of guys that struggled,” he added. “We’re usually pretty good about hitting the reset button, we just didn’t do that tonight.”

Harvard 1, Cornell 0 (OT)

In a defensive battle, Harvard’s Alex Laferriere scored the game-winning goal at 4:28 of overtime to lift the second-seed, Crimson, to a 1-0 win over the third-seeded Cornell Big Red on Friday, March 17 at the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena.

The win advanced Harvard to the ECAC Championship game for the 23rd time in program history.

Joe Miller and Baker Shore picked up assists on Laferriere’s goal.

“Obviously it was really exciting and at the heat of the moment, you kind of forget what happened,” Lafferriere said, “but, Joe’s a really good player and when you give him the puck he’s going to find space. He cut it to the middle and found Baker. I think everybody in the building thought that Baker was going to shoot and he just slid it to the back door.”

While it wasn’t a particularly busy night, Mitchell Gibson stopped all 15 shots in net for the Crimson to earn the shutout. Cornell’s goalkeeper Ian Shane had 24 saves.

“We had our opportunities to score — we didn’t,” Cornell’s head coach Mike Schafer said. “We didn’t capitalize on the powerplay that we had in the third period. It was just unfortunate we had a defenseman caught deep in overtime. One of the few times we gave them an offensive rush opportunity and they capitalized on it.”

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