AMHERST, Mass. - Colgate rallied for four goals in the third period to overcome a 2-1 deficit and complete the weekend sweep of Massachusetts with a 5-2 win Saturday night at the Mullins Center.
Kurtis Bartliff, whom Colgate coach Don Vaughan called out to step up before the game, scored twice for the Raiders, including the game-tying goal four minutes, 39 seconds into the third period, while Tyson Spink and Kyle Baun each scored a power play goal.
Spencer Finney had a quiet night between the pipes, but was strong, making 31 saves and shutting out the Minutemen over the final two periods of play.
Kevin Boyle’s night was quite the opposite. The sophomore goaltender was solid for the first two periods, but fell apart in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 18 saves on the night.
What I Saw
- It appeared UMass was on its way to a grind-it-out, low-scoring victory throughout the second period and the early part of the third period with a 2-1 lead and Boyle playing strong. However, the third period belonged to the Raiders in every way possible. The rally started on a goal that falls solely on the shoulders of Boyle. Bartliff’s shot was a low-quality attempt at the net in which the puck deflected off the midsection of Boyle, and trickled between his legs before he could even locate it. The momentum continued to swing in Colgate’s favor when Joel Hanley was called for a questionable elbowing call that UMass coach John Micheletto was clearly upset about 8:51 into the period. That’s when the power play got back to work and Baun hit Tyson Spink with a cross-ice feed from the slot and Spink buried the puck into a wide open net, something similar to what the unit did to the Minutemen penalty kill the night before. Suddenly, Colgate had the 3-2 advantage as UMass reverted back to the struggles that plagued it on Friday. A pair of greasy goals from Billy Rivellini and Bartliff in front of the net were the finishing touches on a lopsided third period.
- The Minutemen were the exact opposite team that they were in Friday’s 6-4 loss. UMass was playing its game in the first two periods, and that kept the score low and in its favor heading into the final frame. Adam Phillips scored his third goal in as many games 6:06 into the first period off a pass from Conor Allen, who found the junior defenseman-turned-forward out in front to beat Finney top shelf. Minutes after a power play goal by Baun tied the game at one apiece, Branden Gracel put the Minutemen back on top for the next period and a half. Kevin Czepiel’s shot deflected off the body of Finney, and Gracel came crashing in to put home the juicy rebound for his seventh goal of the season. The goal ties Gracel’s career-high for a season and gives him a team-high 13 points. However, UMass reverted back to the same poor defensively play in the third period that proved costly in the first two periods of Friday’s game.
- The Colgate power play was a key element to the team’s success for the second night in a row, boosting the team conversion rate to 21.2 percent after capitalizing on five attempts in two games. Two of those goals came on Saturday and yet again included the tandem of Baun and twin brothers Tyson and Tylor Spink. The second goal was awfully similar to a pair of the goals scored in Friday’s contest as the group had little trouble getting bodies in front of the night. The first one worked out a little differently, however, as Tyson Spink was looking to go backdoor with the puck, but instead it found the stick of Baun who beat Boyle from right between the faceoff circles.
What I Thought
- The second goal that Boyle allowed in the game, and the first of the third period, proved to be the turning point in the game. Boyle and the rest of the defensive unit was visibly frustrated after allowing an easy goal that shouldn’t have been allowed, and it carried over into their play for the rest of the period. The defense got soft after playing a very physical first two periods, and Boyle struggled greatly, allowing multiple easy goals to find their way in. That instilled some life into the Raiders, and it showed on the ensuing power play that had the entire UMass bench livid. But instead of responding with a strong penalty kill, Colgate made quick work with the man advantage to evaporate any chance the Minutemen had of salvaging any points in the game.
- This Colgate team may be a young one, but it’s proving that it’ll make opponents pay for their mistakes. UMass made numerous mistakes in its defensive zone, and oftentimes it resulted in a Raiders goal. Twice on Friday night Colgate forced the Minutemen into making a mistake with the puck, and it led to breakaway chances, both of which found the back of the net. On Saturday, the Raiders simply attacked the net for almost the entirety of the third period, and they forced UMass into making poor defensive zone decisions, and it resulted in a pair of easy goals.
- Goaltender Spencer Finney quietly had himself an impressive night. His frustration was apparent early on after giving up a pair of tough goals in the first 12 minutes, 41 seconds of the game, but he quickly gathered himself and put together the type of night required to win. Finney was seeing the puck well throughout the night and simply got stronger as the game went on. His strong play in the second period in particular was enough to weather the storm and keep the Raiders within a goal despite the defense allowing 15 shots. The way he stepped up in the third period added to the frustration of a UMass team that was clearly falling apart at the seams. The freshman is truly establishing himself as the No. 1 guy for a Colgate team that was searching for the right person to carry the load, as junior Erik Mihalik make 11 starts of his own. However, as Finney continues to put together strong performances and keep the Raiders rolling, the starting job is his to lose.
What They Said
“I thought we got better as the game went on. Aside from the goals in the third I still thought it was our best period … (Bartliff’s) goal in the third to tie it up was a big momentum boost for us. I thought after that we really controlled the puck offensively.” -Colgate coach Don Vaughan.
“We let a goal in the first four minutes that shouldn’t have gone in impact the way that we continued to play. Not that we came out full of life, because we certainly did not.” -UMass coach John Micheletto.
What Ekse You Should Know
UMass looks to bounce back Tuesday night for a road game with Yale slated for 7 p.m.
Colgate is now off until Jan. 4 when it begins the first of a two-game home series against Sacred Heart.