MOVIN’ ON; Pioneers rally to advance to ECAC semis

Jim McLaughlin, Sports Editor

Matt Rogers, Editor-in-chief 

Just 11 days earlier, the Utica College men’s hockey team dropped an overtime heartbreaker on the road at Elmira.

On Wednesday night, when it mattered most, the Pioneers were determined to not let that happen again.

Sophomore Riley Egan scored five minutes into the third period to tie it up, and freshman Hayden Dawes, sophomore Kevin Valenti and senior Joel Wetmore added goals of their own as the Pioneers rallied to take out Elmira 5-3 in the quarterfinal of the ECAC West conference tournament Wednesday night.

Nick Miglio scored the first goal of the game midway through the first period, and later added an assist.

After a Michael Collins goal with just under three minutes to go in the second period, Elmira took a 2-1 lead, but Egan’s game-tying goal gave the Pioneers all the momentum they needed.

Freshman goalie Michael Frederick was solid in net all night long against a potent Elmira top line. He made 29 saves while giving up just three goals.

With the win, the Pioneers will head to Manhattanville Saturday night to take on the Valiants. UC won two of the three games they played against Manhattanville in the regular season.

After Wednesday’s win, the Pioneers sit at 13-9-4 on the season.

Utica 5, Nazareth 2 (Friday’s result)

UC won its last game of the regular season 5-2 against ECAC West opponent Nazareth College on Friday.

The Pioneers needed a win against Nazareth in order to host a home playoff game in the ECAC conference tournament. Nazareth didn’t make it easy for them as they scored the first goal early on in the first period. Sophomore John Power found the back of the net for the Golden Flyers halfway through the period.

UC went into the first intermission down one goal and despite being down, they kept calm heading into the locker-room.

“We were staying the course,” head coach Gary Heenan said. “We weren’t playing poorly and no one was panicking because we were playing at home.”

The Pioneers have done very well at home so far this season. They have only lost two games at home and Friday night proved to be more of the same.

Junior Easton Powers opened up the scoring for UC as he tied the game up 35 seconds into the second period. Freshman Zach Borsoi and senior Joel Wetmore assisted Powers for the tying goal. Sophomore Dalton Carter gave UC the lead three minutes later taking a wrist shot past the goalie from the passes of Wetmore and Powers.

Nazareth didn’t go away quietly as they were able to tie the game 2-2 to end the second period of the game. The third period proved to be a key component for the Pioneers, and having the advantage at home helped.

“We responded very well being down one goal,” Heenan said. “Heading into the third period the team was comfortable with the way the game was going.”

The Pioneers scored two goals in third period 39 seconds apart from another. Sophomores Riley Egan and Anthony McVeigh scored the goals for UC to separate themselves from the Golden Flyers with under 11 minutes in regulation.

Freshman goaltender Michael Fredrick and the UC defense held Nazareth for the rest of the game. Sophomore Kevin Valenti scored an empty net goal with 24 second left to secure the victory 5-2.

“Overall we played well against Nazareth and we played better as the game went on,” Heenan said. “Our depth came through and we were able to score goals when we needed.”

Featured Image: Sophomore Riley Egan scored a pivotal goal early in the third period to tie the game up against Elmira. The Pioneers went on to win 5-3 in the quarterfinal round of the ECAC West conference tournament. Photo by Jeff Pexton

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