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Colgate Raiders fall to UConn in their season opener

A third-period shorthanded goal by the UConn Huskies dooms The Colgate Raiders in their 2023-24 season debut.

The Colgate Raiders Men’s Hockey Team opened their ninety-fourth season on Saturday night at the Class of 1965 Arena. The Raiders had three new faces in the lineup, including a local guy Niko Rexine who hails from Syracuse, NY. Also making his debut in the maroon and white was Brett Chorske – a junior-year transfer from Colorado College. Chorske could be considered a “mountain on skates” as he stands six feet, seven inches tall and weighs 215 pounds.

Despite Chorske’s immense stature, he was not the most noticeable change for the Raiders. The spotlight was focused behind the bench, as for the first time in thirty years, legendary head coach Don Vaughan was not there. Vaughan retired in the offseason and has been replaced by Mike Harder – another Colgate hockey legend. Harder played his collegiate hockey for the Raiders from 1993 – 1997 under Vaughan and is the program’s all-time leading scorer.

Colgate’s opponents on Saturday night were the UConn Huskies of the Hockey East conference. UConn finished the 2022-23 season with an overall record of 20-12-3 and just missed the top twenty in both national preseason polls for this season. The Huskies lineup boasts eight players who have been drafted to NHL teams.

A look at the Colgate Raiders Men’s Hockey 2023-24 schedule

A physical first period set the tone for the rest of the game. It also featured a one-minute offensive explosion that saw the teams combine for three goals. UConn opened the scoring at the 7:13 mark when Matthew Wood blasted a one-timer from the top of the right circle past Colgate goaltender Carter Gylander. Thirty-two seconds later, Wood’s teammate and 2019 fourth-round pick of the New Jersey Devils Samu Salminen lit the lamp. Salminen took a pass from Joey Muldowney, got behind the Raider defense, and beat Gylander (who is a Detroit Red Wings draft pick) to the blocker side. Muldowney is also an NHL draft pick, as the San Jose Sharks took him in the sixth round of the 2022 Entry Draft.

Before the Salminen goal could be announced by the public address announcer, the Raiders struck back with a goal of their own. Junior Ryan McGuire took a pass in the slot from sophomore Sebastian Tamburro and snapped a shot into the UConn cage past goaltender Arsenii Sergeev. The one-minute flurry would be all goal-scoring the first period would have.

Colgate senior goaltender Carter Gylander plays the puck behind his net during Saturday night’s game. Photo credit: Scott Kinville.

The second period had no goal-scoring, but both goaltenders had to be sharp. Sergeev made fifteen saves while Gylander made fourteen.

Colgate’s Robby Newton (#22) is pursued by UConn’s Ryan Tattle during Saturday night’s game. Photo credit: Scott Kinville.

Gylander was barraged by a flurry from UConn early in the third period but was able to repel the attack. With just under eight minutes remaining and the score still 2-1, the Raiders went on the power play. With a home crowd of nearly 1,000 anticipating the tying goal, it would be the Huskies doing the scoring. Tabor Heaslip and Salminen broke in on a two-on-one against Gylander. Heaslip slid a pass over to Salminen who finished the play with a one-timer into the top of the net.

Colgate’s Ryan McGuire (#19) waits for a chance from the top of the UConn crease during Saturday night’s game. Photo credit: Scott Kinville.

With the score now 3-1, the Raiders returned the favor two minutes later with a shorthanded goal of their own. With 4:21 remaining in the third, junior Ben Raymond beat Sergeev with a redirection to get Colgate back within one goal. The comeback would fall short, however, as UConn’s Jake Percival scored an empty net goal with 1:34 remaining to seal a 4-2 victory for his team.

“Certainly not the result we were striving for but we are trending in the right direction.” Colgate Head Coach Mike Harder said after the game. “We will make a few adjustments and keep getting better.”

The teams meet again on Sunday afternoon at the Class of 1965 with a start time of 3:00 p.m. For more information about Colgate Raiders hockey, visit https://colgateathletics.com.

Game noted: Colgate outshot UConn 37-31…Colgate was 0 for 4 on the power play, while UConn was 0 for 5…Ryan McGuire led Colgate scorers with 2 points (1 goal + 1 assist), while Sami Salminen led UConn scorers with 2 points as well (2 goals)…Reid Irwin led Colgate in shots with 5, while Andrew Lucas and Salminen led UConn in shots with 5 each

Photo credit; Scott Kinville.
Recorded right before the Ohio St. series, in this episode, our featured guest is the Head Coach of the third-ranked Colgate Raiders Women’s Hockey Team, Greg Fargo! We chat about the Colgate recruiting process and their new players, the return of Breanne Wilson Bennett to the program, the Ohio St. series, the upcoming Penn St. series, and the season ahead! Also available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Amazon.
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