The Colgate Raiders (21-8-5) defeated both the Union Dutchwomen (4-28-2) and the RPI Engineers (13-16-5) to battle their way to the number two seed in the 2019 ECAC Tournament Playoffs. With 33 overall league points, they were tied with both Clarkson and Princeton for the top of the leaderboard. As Colgate had the better head to head record between Clarkson and Princeton with two wins, a tie and a loss. Cornell earned the one seed and earned the regular season championship.
Let’s get into how the Raiders got to the top of the leaderboards this weekend. It all started in Schenectady, NY against the Union Dutchwomen. After giving up an early goal in the first, Tanner Gates would tie the game in the waning minutes of the period. She stole a puck from a Union player and maneuvered her way to the goal and struck high to tie the game at 1-1. Just 42 seconds later, Jessie Eldridge did a little thievery of her own, causing a turnover and sending a puck towards the net. Shae Labbe was there for an unintentional assist, as the puck hit off her skate and into the net for the 2-1 lead going into the first intermission.
The theme of turnovers continued, as Rosalie Demers snagged a puck away from a Union player and delivered the puck back to the net to make it 3-1 in the early minutes of the second period. The Raiders went up 4-1 after a nonstop attack on the Union net resulted in Eldridge cashing in on her own blocked shot for a rebound goal.
Union cut the lead to two just five minutes into the final period. That would be as close as the Dutchwomen could get as Eldridge would score a shorthanded empty netter with just one and a half minutes left in the game to ice the game 5-2.
The very next day in Troy, NY, the Raiders continued to roll against the RPI Engineers. After a silent first period, the second period started off with a fantastic play from Jessie Eldridge to Olivia Zafuto. Eldridge sent the puck flying from the Raider zone to the other end where Zafuto found it and one timed it past the Engineer goalie for a 1-0 lead early in the second period. RPI would finally break through to tie the game at 1-1 but Colgate would respond in kind with the time winding down. On a Raider power play, Demers and Eldridge played a quick game of hot potato before Eldridge fired a shot past the Engineer goalie for the 2-1 lead. The Raiders were not done, as Caroline Ross fired the puck from downtown towards the net for a 3-1 lead with just two seconds left in the second period. The puck hit an Engineer player and went into the net for Ross’ first goal as a Colgate Raider.
The final period came with some drama, as the Engineers scored an early goal to make it 3-2. The drama would disappear as with five minutes left in the game, Chelsea Jacques banged home her first goal of the season to give the Raiders a 4-2 lead. That 4-2 lead would last the rest of the game as Colgate completed the weekend sweep and leap frogged their way to the top of the ECAC standings.
The Colgate Raiders will now be focusing on their next opponent, the Harvard Crimson. This will be a best two out of three series that will play out in 1965 arena in Hamilton, NY. The road ahead will be very tough. This Colgate team has experienced some growing pains throughout the season .However they have matured enough as a hockey team to become a legitimate contender in the conference and even the tournament if they get to that point. Here is to playoff hockey. Go Gate!