This is Colgate’s first NCAA tournament appearance, but the Raiders are far from bright-eyed rookies. They’re an experienced, veteran team. Nine of their top ten leading scorers are either juniors or seniors, along with a junior starting in net.
Their success this year is a testament to head coach Greg Fargo. Taking over a team that had gone 10-21-2 the previous season, Fargo opened his head coaching career with a September series at Minnesota in the fall of 2012. Facing a Gopher team that would eventually run the table with an undefeated season, Colgate lost the Friday night game 7-0, then lost 11-0 the following night. Six years later, Fargo is returning to Ridder Arena for the first time since that series as a participant in the Frozen Four.
Fargo talked about his team’s evolution on Thursday:
My first two games at Colgate were in this rink so, it’s a little bit poetic for me to come back here under these circumstances. The culture of this program has just been about continuous improvement since the day we started. That’s what we’ve tried to do this year, I think the reason we’re sitting in these seats right now is because we’ve been able to make strides forward. Win or lose, we’ve extracted gains from every loss this year and just kept this thing moving forward. It’s always been about getting better every day and that’s what we’re going to continue to do, whether it’s today or tomorrow or next year. We’re going to keep getting better.
They lack a big name offensive star power, but make up for it with very good depth and strong team defense. Eight different skaters hit double digit goal totals this year. Expect them to play a patient, disciplined game against Wisconsin. They may not match up talentwise, but will force Wisconsin to earn whatever they take, and have a real shot at pulling off the upset if they’re able to capitalize on their chances, especially on the power play.
Players to watch for the Raiders:
Jessie Eldridge, Junior, Forward: Leading scorer for the Raiders and the only regular to average more than a point-per-game on the season.
Julia Vandyk, Junior, Goalie: Vandyk played the majority of minutes for Colgate this season and was very good in net. She was second in the ECAC behind Clarkson’s Shea Tiley in most statistical categories.
Megan Sullivan, Senior, Forward: Depth is a huge advantage for Colgate. Sullivan doesn’t play on Colgate’s top line, but scored 16 goals on the season, including six on the power play.