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Steve Silverthorn made 30 saves and four different Raiders scored goals as Colgate registered a 4-2 win over Yale before a sellout crowd at Ingalls Rink.
Colgate, trying to earn home ice in the first round, did a great job of clearing rebounds away from Yale forwards and limiting second chances. Meanwhile, the underdog visitors erased 1-0 and 2-1 deficits and scored the last three goals to improve to 14-16-3 (9-10-2 ECAC).
“Some of the problems we had were of our own making, but Colgate played a very disciplined, tight-checking game,” said Yale head coach Tim Taylor. “Technically we did OK; we didn’t really get hemmed in and bottled up in our own end, but we had trouble advancing through the neutral zone with speed.”
The Bulldogs (17-11, 13-8), who have lost two straight but managed to secure a bye for the first round of the playoffs, got next weekend off by virtue of Brown’s tie with St. Lawrence at Providence.
Yale, which will finish either third or fourth in the conference, entertains No. 2 Cornell on Saturday night in a game that airs live on NESN and the YES Network. The Elis will also host a best-of-three quarterfinal series on March 14-16.
After a sluggish and sloppy start on both sides in the first half of the opening period, Chris Higgins took advantage of a good position to give Yale the lead. Vin Hellemeyer’s backhander was deflected by Nick Deschenes before going on net. Higgins grabbed the puck off the rebound between the left circle and the crease and snapped it low past Silverthorn’s stick at 14:27 for his team-best 19th goal of the winter.
The Raiders got even with a man-advantage with 2:12 left in the period. J.R. Bria’s blast from the top of the right circle beat Josh Gartner (25 saves) over his left shoulder. Bria got the puck after defensive partner Rob Brown fired a shot that went around the boards behind the net and then popped out to the circle.
The last five minutes of the opening frame was much better hockey as both teams created quality chances. Both sides finished with 13 shots on net.
The Elis outshot the visitors 13-9 in the second but were outscored by a goal.
Yale registered its third shorthanded goal of the season to grab a lead that would last only a few minutes. Higgins stole the puck from a Raider defender and then tipped it to Hellemeyer, who took a few strides and then wristed it past Silverthorn’s glove at 1:51.
Colgate answered with two goals almost three minutes apart to take its first lead. Gartner made a save on two shots and then Dmitry Yashin beat the Bulldog defense to a puck that sat a few feet outside the crease for about three seconds. Yashin banged it home at 4:25 for his sixth goal.
A pretty crossing pass from Kyle Doyle to Scooter Smith caught Gartner out of position to make it 4-3 at 7:15. Smith, Colgate’s leading scorer, beat Yale blueliner Bryan Freeman to the net and easily one-timed the puck into the open left side for his 22nd goal of the year. Doyle took a feed from Smith and then skated inside the blue line before his linemate rushed to the other end to tip the shot home.
Both goalies played well in the third, but Gartner was the first to give up a goal. Adam Mitchell’s blast from the top of the right circle hit the left post and bounced into the back of the net at 17:41 to make it 4-2.