HAMILTON – Colgate clicked in all phases to claim a 7-4 win over Bryant for the season opener here Saturday.
Frigid Andy Kerr Stadium felt like sunny and 75 for the Raiders during a sizzling stretch of the second quarter. Colgate scored four times in a 4-minute, 26-second stretch that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 lead at intermission.
“We were just able to play offense,” Raiders head coach Mike Murphy said of the outburst. “We did a good job of limiting what they were able to do offensively. And if the ball got on the ground or Brandon Burke made a save, we cleared it very well and gave our offense more opportunities to get good shots.
“We started to get some things to fall because we were a little bit more patient. We were getting the best shot, not necessarily the first shot.”
Three Goals in 49 Seconds
Trailing 2-1 after Bryant scored with 8:43 left in the half, Colgate answered at the 8:01 mark when Eric Foote scored his second of the game. It remained tied untilKevin Adams scored with 4:24 showing – the first of three Colgate goals in a 49-second span.
Kevin Boyle then picked up one of his game-high six ground balls and raced downfield for a long-pole rifle shot that found the net with 4:13 to play. Ryan Walsh capped the flurry at the 3:35 mark to extend his nation’s best streak to 32 consecutive games with at least one goal.
Walsh finished with three tallies for his 14th career hat trick.
The sophomore Adams was making his first collegiate appearance and first start. Other Raiders seeing the starting lineup for the first time were Leo Stouros, John Baker and first-year middie Will Mette.
“We’ve got some veteran guys and we’ve got some headliners in Ryan Walsh,Brendon McCann and Bobby Lawrence, but what we need to do and what we did a really good job of today is we got a really good team win,” Murphy said.
Setting the Tone at Faceoff
The Raiders also received a big lift from faceoff specialist Alex Kinnealey. The Massachusetts junior took center stage against one of the nation’s premier faceoff performers in Bryant’s Kevin Massa, and Kinnealey came away with an 8-7 advantage in faceoff wins.
Kinnealey claimed four of the six draws in that decisive second quarter to spark the Colgate offense.
“It was really good to set the tone,” Kinnealey said. “It was a tough assignment but we had a great week of preparation, and that set the tone for the week as opposed to the game itself.
“I’ve been looking forward to my personal matchup with Kevin Massa since last May. It’s great to come out against a tough team like Bryant and get a nice W, especially with the way our defense and our goalie played.”
Murphy said he expected Kinnealey to perform just as well as former Raider Robert Grabher did when he took over at the faceoff position two years ago.
“Alex has been doing it a long time for us – his first two years getting Robby Grabher set,” Murphy said. “But now it’s Alex’s turn. He’s waited his turn with pride, being a member of the scout team, and now it’s his turn to shine.
“He did an unbelievable job against one of the country’s best.”
Defense Stands Tall
Freshman Burke (pictured right) backed up a stout Colgate defensive unit that held the Bulldogs to just two goals over the first 45 minutes. Burke made nine saves – four in a shutout third period – against 27 Bryant shots on goal.
“We started a freshman in the goal for the second year in a row and Brandon really stood up to the challenge,” Murphy said. “His play has been very consistent through the course of training camp.
“Our defense was very good. I said to the guys, they get my wrath every day and they did a really nice job.”
Brendon McCann added two assists for the Maroons, who outshot their guests 33-27 and picked up 25 ground balls to 22 for Bryant. Colgate was 17-of-18 on clears; Bryant 16-of-18. Turnovers were 15-13, Bryant. And neither team found the netting on extra-man opportunities, with Colgate 0-of-4 and Bryant 0-of-2.
Behind Boyle’s six ground balls, Kinnealey, Walsh, Baker and Lawrence posted three apiece. Lawrence added a pair of caused turnovers.
“It was a great team win; I’m so proud of our team,” Murphy reiterated. “We did a good job offensively playing with some patience. We’ve got to play with a little bit more poise and shoot better. But overall it was a very nice team win against a Bryant team – a team that was in the NCAA tournament, a team that returned a lot of their top scorers.”
The Raiders are back at Andy Kerr Stadium next Saturday for a 1 p.m. start against Vermont, which will be playing its season opener.
Raider Reel: Game time temperature was 15 degrees … Bryant’s Colin Dunster posted a hat trick for the Bulldogs, and Gunnar Waldt made 11 saves in goal.