Many college hockey teams can rely on their experienced upperclassmen to carry the workload and lead the team to victories week in and week out.
The Colgate hockey team, however, is not one of those teams.
On Friday night, Massachusetts learned that the hard way, as the Raiders, with the help of big games from five freshmen, handed the Minutemen a 6-4 loss in front of 2,834 at the Mullins Center.
Colgate’s top line of freshmen Tylor Spink, Tyson Spink and Kyle Baun, in addition to rookies Mike Borkowski and Darcy Murphy combined for five goals and 11 points and kept up with UMass’ late third-period push to come away with the win.
“We gift-wrapped a fair number of goals tonight for everybody in their lineup, so I’d hate to single out any guys on their end based on the opportunities that we gave them,” UMass coach John Micheletto said. “I thought it was a byproduct of our play at how opportunistic those guys were able to be.”
Thanks to the big nights of the Colgate (8-7-2, 3-4-1 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference) freshmen, the Minutemen (5-7-2, 4-6-1 Hockey East Association) entered the third period trailing 4-1 to the Raiders. Quickly, however, UMass got it together, scoring two goals in the first six minutes of the frame, including Adam Phillips’ power play strike 5:37 in to close the UMass deficit to 4-3.
Phillips, who before last Saturday’s game at Northeastern had not scored a goal in his last 30 games, has now scored in two straight. He finished with a goal and three assists on Friday night.
“I don’t know, I guess I’m just getting kind of lucky,” Phillips said. “The first one at Northeastern, the puck turns over and I have the puck on my stick with a breakaway, so that’s just kind of lucky I guess. And then tonight, there’s a 3-on-2 and I was the wide guy and I got a nice pass and I pretty much had an empty net. Just right place, right time I guess.”
The momentum came to a screeching halt when Colgate defenseman Jeremy Price scored a shorthanded goal two minutes later, increasing the Raiders’ lead back to two.
But the Minutemen fought back. Conor Allen scored his fourth goal of the season at the 12:41 mark, when he centered the puck across the crease and watched it deflect in off a skate to bring UMass back to within a goal.
But just over two minutes later, Murphy scored his sixth goal of the season and the eventual clincher that put the game on ice, as Colgate skated away with the hard-earned victory.
“I thought it was a good road win for us,” Colgate coach Don Vaughan said. “I think, clearly, when you’re on the road, you have to take advantage of your opportunities and I thought our power play did that tonight. Our freshman line was pretty good early and we hung on at the end.”
The two sides played mostly even through the first 20 minutes of play as they skated to a 1-1 tie into the first intermission. But it was the Raiders who came out hot in the second period.
Colgate’s top line contributed two goals to break the game open in the first six minutes of the period and then another one with just a little more than one minute left in the frame to push the Raider lead to 4-1 heading into intermission. “The second (intermission) discussion was slightly more animated than normal, but the point was still the same,” Micheletto said. “There was not the puck pursuit that is a hallmark of our program. All things that are backbones of our program and give us opportunities to win were not existent through two periods.”
UMass outshot Colgate for the game, 35-25, but were unable to convert on several opportunities. Minuteman goaltender Kevin Boyle surrendered all six goals and finished with 19 saves, while his counterpart, Spencer Finney, finished with 31 saves in the win.
The two teams will return to the Mullins Center again on Saturday night to finish their two-game series. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.