SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Skidmore men’s hockey team was able to put together a “positive weekend” of NEHC play, forcing a 3-3 tie with 7th-ranked Babson on Friday and defeating Southern Maine 6-2 on Saturday.
Head coach Rob Hutchison said the team aimed to keep their mindset and preparation consistent, following a weekend in which the Thoroughbreds beat New England College 7-4 and lost 4-1 to 10th-ranked Norwich.
“It’s kind of consistent in that we want to learn from each experience, win or lose,” said Hutchison. “Attack some different areas during the week, and then execute a little better each week.”
The Thoroughbreds certainly executed in the opening period against Babson on Friday. Kaeden Patrick gave Skidmore a 1-0 lead just 1:24 into the game, and Ryan Waltman added another goal just 33 seconds later to make it 2-0. Patrick’s second goal gave the team a 3-0 lead after the first period.
“We were really focused on executing our game plan,” Hutchison said of the opening period. “Some guys made some really nice plays. There was really good energy in the building, so we were feeding off that. I think we were pretty excited to jump on them early, and that was part of the game plan, making sure we came out of the gates hot.”
Babson wouldn’t go away, however, and the Beavers were able to cut the deficit to one following the second period of play. A powerplay goal by Colby Bailey landed Babson on the scoreboard, and another goal on the man advantage by Ian Driscoll made it 3-2 entering the final frame.
Hutchison said that Skidmore made some “self-inflicted” mistakes in the middle period.
“We took some penalties, kind of lost our discipline and our structure and our focus on the game plan,” said Hutchison. “In the third, we kind of hit reset and said, ‘OK, here’s where we’re at.’”
The Thoroughbreds played a “pretty good period,” in the third, Hutchison said, but were unable to add on to the lead, and Babson tied the game with a shorthanded goal by James Perullo.
“Which is uncommon, our powerplay’s been really good,” Hutchison said. “We weren’t able to overcome that goal late. But we did kind of turn the corner and play much better in the third period.”
Tied 3-3 after three periods, the game went to overtime, and resulted in a tie after neither team was able to find the back of the net again.
“I think the end result was a little disappointing, considering our start to that game,” said Hutchison. “But we responded nicely on Saturday.”
Skidmore bounced back with a 6-2 win over Southern Maine on Saturday, with six different players scoring a goal for the Thoroughbreds.
“It was just all hands on deck. Everybody was contributing,” Hutchison said of Saturday’s victory. “And it wasn’t necessarily just the offensive play. As the game progressed, we got better on the defensive side of the puck, which led to a lot of offensive scoring chances.”
After a scoreless first period, Kevin Urquhart gave Skidmore a 1-0 lead just under seven minutes into the second. Southern Maine responded just five minutes later, with Curtis Judd scoring to tie the game, but it was all Thoroughbreds from there.
Jaden York scored with eight minutes left in the period to put Skidmore back in front, and Zach Frisk added a goal just 1:34 after York to make it 3-1.
Devon Mussio extended the lead to 4-1 in the third, with a shorthanded goal by Thomas Finck making it 5-1 before Danny Magnuson scored the team’s sixth and final goal of the night. Judd scored his second goal for USM with 8 minutes remaining to round out the scoring. Tate Brandon stopped 27 of 29 shots in goal for the Thoroughbreds.
“Everybody was chipping in offensively. That bodes well for us, I think, moving forward,” said Hutchison. “You want to have guys moving forward with confidence, and feel like they can contribute in all areas of the game.”
Following the 1-0-1 weekend, Skidmore is 6-2-1 overall and 2-1-1 in NEHC play. The Thoroughbreds host the Skidmore Thanksgiving Invitational this weekend, playing Rivier University on Friday. The winner of that game will face the winner of Oswego State and Wilkes University on Saturday.
Hutchison said that “the intensity should never waver” entering the non-conference matchups.
“Every game’s important. We’re in a position where we aspire to win the conference and/or get an at-large bid,” said Hutchison. “There’s so few of them that every game matters if you’re going to be in the conversation for that. We’ve talked about that as a group, and the guys are all aware that’s a goal. The approach and the intensity don’t waver a bit.”