While most people back in North America were perhaps watching the Boston Bruins host the New York Rangers for the annual After Thanksgiving matinee, the first game of the Friendship Four’s semi-finals was well underway, and in fact was probably already a forgone conclusion by the time the puck dropped at TD Garden. With the time difference, the Colgate University-Brown University match up was almost over and by that time Brown had schooled Colgate in how to play a hockey game. When the buzzer signaled the end of the game Brown had won 5-0 and freshman Tommy Marchin had a hat trick, though no hats rained down on the ice after his third goal.
Colgate and Brown’s game started at 4:00pm Belfast time, which was 11:00am back in Boston. The first period mirrored much of the type of equal play that the two teams had shown when playing each other the previous week at Brown University’s Meehan Auditorium. However, when the teams returned to the ice for the second period, it was a completely different Brown team and they began to dominate the ice. They limited Colgate to just three shots on goal during that period and on the offensive side of things, they had four even-strength goals (the other being scored by captain Mark Naclerio).
As the third period began, the Colgate’s Raiders took a penalty just 30 seconds into that frame, and about one minute later Tyler Bird got the power play goal for Brown to give them five goals on the game up to that point. And really, that’s about all that could be said about that game.
To say that the Colgate players were disappointed would an understatement. This was not an exhibition game, there were important ECAC conference points at stake and they went to Brown. It was clear that Colgate will be evaluating where things went wrong so that they can come back strong to play in the Bronze Medal game on Saturday.
Some of their takeaways from this game and the Belfast experience up to this point will certainly be intangibles. The noise made by the crowds during this game came from some of the loudest fans I have seen at a college game. There were a number of school groups in attendance—many from schools whom the various college teams had visited earlier in the week—and the schools came bearing signs for their favorite college and chanting loudly to help their team along.
Northeastern and University of Massachusetts-Lowell were the second game of the evening and once again league points were at stake for these two teams, this time in the Hockey East conference. Given how impressively UMass-Lowell’s River Hawks have played in the season coming into the game, it would not have been out of the realm of possibility to see them take over the game, however, that was not what happened.
Like the first game, the first period saw no goals scored and relatively even shots on goal—perhaps as the two teams got a feel for each other. During the second period, it was the man-advantage that made the difference for both teams. First was the Northeastern Huskies, as Nolan Stevens got one just 52 seconds into the second period. And that’s where the score would sit for almost 15 minutes until Mike McMurtry got called for hooking and the River Hawks would answer with a power play goal of their own off the stick of Dylan Zink. The teams would go to the second intermission tied at one a piece.
Just a little more than five minutes into the third period, the Huskies would get a go ahead goal from Ryan Rosenthal, even strength this time. It looked like perhaps Northeastern would be vying for the Belpot on Saturday night. However, 14:49 of playing time is still a lot of hockey. Just 28 seconds after the Northeastern goal, River Hawk Adam Chapie got whistled for checking from behind and given a five minute major plus a game misconduct. The Huskies failed to score on the major and that opened the door for the River Hawks to get back into the game. As the third period progressed, it was clear that they had an additional gear and while they only had two shots on net that period, they made one of them count on a power play with just a minute to go in the game to tie it up. Husky Colton Saucerman got called for hooking, and being down a goal, head coach Norm Bazin pulled his goalie giving the River Hawks six attackers on the ice for that power play. It took all of 15 seconds for them to get the tying goal.
The overtime clock was set for five minutes and the puck dropped. At 1:13 of that extra inning, River Hawk Zink would get his second of the game and the game winner to ensure that the River Hawks would be competing on Saturday night for the Belpot.
Northeastern’s players played a hard game and though they didn’t win, it was one of the best games they have played so far this season. It will be interesting to see how they play when they return to the United States. But first they will take on the Colgate University Raiders in the Bronze Medal game.
Perhaps it is fitting that the River Hawks will be battling for this inaugural Belpot on Saturday night. A beloved Belfast Giants player, whose image is up on the wall at SSE Arena—Bobby Robins—is an alumnus of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. While his schedule didn’t permit him being at the games in person, it is likely that his heart will be with his alma mater as they strive to become champions of the Friendship Four Tournament and hoist the Belpot.
The Bronze medal game will take place at 4:00pm Belfast time and will pit Colgate’s Raiders against Northeastern’s Huskies. The championship game is scheduled for 7:30pm and will see the UMass Lowell River Hawks take on the Brown University Bears. Both should be excellent games.