To The Bitter End
Smith's Stellar Colgate Career Ends Without a Bang
by Rob Moore/CHN Reporter
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. Austin Smtih’s accomplishment-studded collegiate career came to a quiet end Friday afternoon at the ECAC semifinals in Boardwalk Hall.
Colgate, which entered the tournament in the fourth seed, still gets to play the consolation game on Saturday, but without an NCAA at-large bid chance, the game doesn’t have much significance to the Raiders.
The Smith-Wagner-Wilson starting line has been responsible for 128 points for the Raiders this season. Smith led the league in goals with 36 and Wagner led in assists with 33. The duo is the first to both have 50 points in a season for Colgate since Mike Harder and Chris DeProfio skated at Sarr rink.
Smith’s trip to Atlantic City was not without its highs. At the March 15 championship banquet, he was named the ECAC player of the year and recognized as a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. His status as one of the nation’s best college hockey players is unquestionable as he leads in goals and is second in points. So far this season, the senior has notched six shorthanded goals against opponents, demonstrating his effectiveness in transferring momentum to the Raiders.
During the 6-2 loss to Cleary Cup Champion Union, Colgate suffered from several mishandled pucks in their own defensive zone and a few blind passes. “We haven’t made that many mistakes that resulted in goals in a long time,” said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan.
After the game, Smith was uncharacteristically emotional. “I’ve never given up in a game before, ever. I always compete to the end,” said Smith. “When it hit 5-1, I was trying to hold tears back. The rest of the game I was just circling and I had a million things going on in my head. I wasn’t very effective.”
Colgate was able to keep up with Union at the start of the contest, coming to within one with a quick goal by freshman Joe Wilson within the first 30 seconds of the second period. Smith’s only point during the game came on the assist.
“I thought we dominated the first period and were with them for most of the second period. When we got that goal to make it 2-1, I believed more than anyone that we could win,” said Smith. By the middle of the third period though, he was beginning to think different thoughts. “That [fifth goal] was the goal for me where I realized it was the end of my career.”
With 12 seconds left on the clock, the Raiders just stopped skating. It’s possible Saturday’s consolation game versus Cornell will leave a better taste in Smith’s mouth for collegiate hockey before he turns to the professional circuit. Smith looks to add to his enormous point sum of 57 on Saturday and will hopefully look back on a game other than Friday when he remembers his time of dominance on the ice for the Colgate Raiders.