Colgate Believes in Miracles as Raiders stun No. 1 seed Quinnipiac

Eric Zank

LAKE PLACID, NY– On February 22, 1980, the United States Olympic hockey team did the unthinkable by knocking off the highly-powered Soviet Union squad. As the final seconds ticked away, millions of people around the world heard Al Michaels belt out “Morrow up to Silk, five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” 

Friday night on that very same sheet of ice, a mini-miracle was etched in college hockey history, when the Colgate Raiders clawed their way past the highly favored Quinnipiac Bobcats in double overtime, by the score of 2-1. 

“We played our best game of the year tonight,” Raiders head coach Don Vaughan said. 

Between the location of the game and the magnitude of it being an ECAC Semifinal matchup, the entire night had a special feel to it. 

Coming into the tournament, the assumption was to expect defensive-minded games where goals are hard to come by, and just one red light may be the difference. Friday’s matchup was, to a tee, exactly that. 

The first period found both clubs struggling to generate any kind of offense at all, while there were very few chances that came from below the faceoff dots. However, one defensive breakdown from Quinnipiac was all it took for the Raiders to pounce and take a 1-0 lead, on a beautiful Daniel Panetta breakaway tally. 

As the puck dropped on the second period of play, the Bobcats turned the tide in their favor, but even a late-period net-mouth scramble that had Colgate goaltender Carter Gylander down wasn’t enough to sneak a goal past the Detroit Red Wings’ prospect between the pipes. 

At the end of two periods, Colgate was holding onto a slim one-goal lead. 

Quinnipiac, being the No. 1 seed this weekend, wasn’t going away that easily. It took all of 3:47 into the final regulation period for Ethan de Jong to even the score on a rebound in the crease. As the third period carried on, de Jong’s power play goal proved its importance. Neither team seemed to have an edge as time quickly dwindled and sent the 1-1 deadlock to overtime. 

After Quinnipiac’s practice on Thursday, Michael Lombardi mentioned how he wanted the Bobcats to dictate the pace of the game, and take control. To his dismay, the game actually tended to favor Colgate more often than not. 

The overtime period zipped by at what seemed like the snap of a finger, and while both teams had their fair share of opportunities, neither could pocket a game-winner. 

Now running into the intended start time for the succeeding Cornell-Harvard matchup, it seemed as though the double overtime period would be the one where the ice was broken. The first five-or-so minutes played out like a game of ping-pong, until a shot from the blue line got through to Bobcats goalie and ECAC Goaltender of the Year, Yaniv Perets, on which he made the initial save but couldn’t halt the rebound. 

Top line winger Ross Mitton tucked the frozen biscuit between the right skate of Perets and the left goal post, across the line and sent the Colgate Raiders to a decisive championship game Saturday evening, March 18. 

Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold was critical of his team, while also appreciative of the effort that Colgate put forth. 

“It was our worst game of the season,” Pecknold said. “Wrong time to do it, but it happens. They’re still kids.” 

Pecknold added, “I think (Colgate) is an excellent hockey team, they’ve got tons of talent. They were blocking shots and were the better team tonight… Most of our play was atrocious.” 

It’s a tough pill to swallow for the Bobcats, however they’re still eligible for the NCAA tournament that starts next week, and are likely to earn a bid. 

“We’ve just got to reload and get fired up,” Pecknold said of the looming tournament. “Whoever our opponent will be is going to be very good…we’ve got to be hungry.” 

Quinnipiac defeated Colgate in the semifinal round last year, before losing to Harvard in the championship game. This year, the Raiders prevented Hamden’s home team from even reaching the final game, and will go for an ECAC championship of their own. 

With this loss, the Bobcats drop to 30-4-3 on the season, and will leave Herb Brooks Arena feeling the same way the Russian Olympic team did 43 years ago.