Until The Last Second
Colgate Offense Stifled by Motte, Bulldogs
by Avash Kalra/Senior Writer
CINCINNATI Ferris State junior C.J. Motte is one of three goaltenders this season nominated for the Hobey Baker Award, and on Friday in the NCAA Midwest Regional opener against Colgate, he showed why – stopping all 35 Raider shots in a 1-0 shutout win.
Motte had plenty of help though, with the Bulldogs defense blocking 19 shots in front of him, smothering a Colgate offense that hadn’t been shut out since mid-December.
“They did a great job playing desperate at the end,” said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan, who earned the honor of the ECAC’s Coach of the Year after the Raiders finished second in the conference. “They were in the shooting lanes all night long. We had a lot of trouble getting pucks through to the net.”
Friday’s matchup on the banks of the Ohio River was the fourth of the season between Ferris State and Colgate. In the most recent meeting, Colgate won the Mariucci Classic in Minneapolis by beating the Bulldogs 3-0 on Jan. 4.
In that game, the Raiders converted on two of their six power-play opportunities. Friday in Cincinnati, against a team leading the nation in penalty minutes entering the NCAA tournament, Colgate went 0-for-4 – and not by accident.
Explained Ferris State coach Bob Daniels, “We did go back and look at the tournament final game where they beat us 3-0. In particular, we paid a lot of attention to their power play. They burned us on their power play the few times we played them. We know that they like to pop [Kyle] Baun out, and [Spink] gets lost in the back side a little built.
“We really worked on that rotation, and to have that familiarity was important.”
Among the penalty killers who were integral in the Bulldogs defensive effort against Colgate were seniors Cory Kane and Garrett Thompson.
“We pride ourselves on the little things, on our play in the defensive zone,” said Kane, who registered an assist on the game’s only goal, a power-play marker by freshman Gerald Mayhew. “This is playoff hockey, and anything can make the difference. Getting in front of [their shots] helped us tonight.”
Added Thompson, “Guys are just going to sacrifice every limb they have at this point.”
Certainly, Vaughan’s Raiders weren’t short on effort against Ferris State on Friday – the Bulldogs simply thwarted every Colgate opportunity.
“They did a great job defending the lead when they had it,” Vaughan said. “We had some good looks, but they didn’t go. Can’t fault our effort though. As a coach, that’s how you evaluate your team.”
Importantly, for a young team in particular, Colgate’s confidence never seemed to waver.
“This team has had great composure all year long,” said Vaughan, whose team was 8-3 in one-goal games prior to Friday. “The composure on the bench was great. In fact, our guys were really confident that we were going to win the game.”
Added Colgate captain Spiro Goulakos, “We never lost faith, never lost hope, until the last second.”
Goulakos, a junior, will be among a large returning group for Colgate next season. The Raiders had only one senior – forward Mike McCann – who saw action on Friday and were led all season by a core of sophomores, in addition to freshman goaltender Charlie Finn, who himself was stellar against Ferris State, stopping all but one of the Bulldogs’ 27 offerings.
And so there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic for next season in Hamilton, N.Y., with Colgate carrying with them the experience of an ECAC championship game appearance and the program’s first NCAA tournament game in almost a decade.
The lesson learned – the difference, as Kane said, can be the “little things.” On Friday, Ferris State was just one goal better.