BRUNSWICK — Trailing by a pair of goals, twice, before the game was even 30 minutes old, the Colby College hockey team never flinched.

Buoyed by two goals in span of 26 seconds midway through the second period, the Mules fought all the way back to get senior center Nick O’Connor’s overtime winner and post their first win of the season — a 4-3 decision over SUNY-Potsdam in the opening round of the Colby/Bowdoin Faceoff Classic at Sid Watson Arena. O’Connor and freshman Mike Morrissey each scored a pair of goals in the win, and junior goalie Andrew Tucci stopped 22 of the final 23 shots he faced to preserve the victory.

“It just shows our character. We’re a hard-working team,” Morrissey said. “We don’t really care what the scoreboard says, or what our record is. We’re just going to come out and play.”

Colby faces Wentworth on Sunday at home to complete the two-day tournament and try to even its record at .500 after a pair of conference losses to open the season last weekend.

“We knew it wasn’t going to come easy. It’s a learning experience out there,” Tucci said. “We took all the positives from last week, we watched some film, and we saw what we could do better. This game was an opportunity to apply what we learned.”

Things could have gone much differently for Colby (1-2-0), after Potsdam (4-4-0) scored twice in the first five minutes of the opening period to take a 2-0 lead.

Morrissey’s first as a Mule late in the period cut the Colby deficit to 2-1, but the Bears went back ahead by two at 3-1 with Vincent Guimond’s power-play goal from a bad angle at 7:13 of the second.

“It was two goals that didn’t really hurt my confidence. I thought we could play better as a whole team,” Tucci said. “It’s a long game, right? The first five minutes doesn’t define how we play throughout the whole game.”

That’s when Colby found the magic that propelled it to the New England Small College Athletic Conference championship last season.

O’Connor pounced on the power play when Thomas Stahlhuth’s shot from the point took a high, awkward bounce and landed in a crowd, just 26 seconds before Morrissey beat Potsdam’s senior netminder Nate Skidmore (24 saves) with his second wrister from the left circle. That tied the score at 3-3 with 10:54 remaining in the middle stanza.

It was fitting that Morrissey ended up with the first two goals of his Colby career given he and linemates Robert Cerepak and John Rourke were effective at both ends of the rink throughout the afternoon.

“Definitely huge goals for big momentum,” Morrissey said. “I’ll do anything. I’ll hit, I’ll score, whatever it takes to help the team win. We’re a bunch of renaissance guys on that line. We’ll do whatever we can, we’re utility guys out there.”

Once the Mules had battled all the way back, Tucci was at his best. Undeterred by having surrendered goals to both Bryce Ferrell and Ben Mariano inside the opening 4:47 to hand Potsdam the early two-goal lead, the Toronto native was outstanding. He finished with 24 saves, including a number against the Bears’ quick and opportunistic transition game.

His confidence mirrored his team’s, as Colby nearly potted the winner on more than one occasion in a tight-checking third period.

Morrissey bid for a hat trick just over a minute into overtime, with another hard shot from inside the left hashmarks gobbled up by Skimore to keep things tied.

Sophomore defenseman Billy Overby created the winning goal 3:06 into overtime, keeping a puck in at the right point before firing it into the crowd in the slot where O’Connor was able to deflect it to the back of the net.

“We’re process driven but outcome aware,” Colby head coach Blaise MacDonald said. “The outcome is great, no question about it. But what I saw was a team that responded after digging a pretty big hole. … I thought our game savviness, our game awareness, was coming along every single period.

“I thought we got what we deserved.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC


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