Abin Boris, Sports Editor
Plenty of hockey was played this weekend as both the men and women’s hit the ice to play back-to-back games against their respective opponents.
The women’s team opened their two-game set with the Valiants of Manhattanville on Friday night that ended in a blowout score of 5-0 in the Pioneer’s favor. Utica put its foot on the gas pedal and never looked back. A total of 11 pioneers were able to tally points for the squad on their way to the dominating win.
Sophomore forward Carolyn Whitney led the team with 2 points on the night setting her up for Saturday when she also shined for the team in their tight 3-2 victory over the same Valiants. She was able to post 2 more points giving her 4 on the weekend and a team-leading 7 (2G,5A) on the season.
Whitney in the first 4 games of the season has been nothing short of spectacular but she cannot take all of the credit for her early success on the season.
“Playing with skilled players like Lexi Staniszewski and Alexa Carlon has been really helpful,” she said. “We all bring something different to the ice which has allowed us to elevate our game and have offensive success.”
The team is off to a great start, sitting at 3-1 on the season with their only loss being their season opener where they were held off by Castleton in a close 2-1 game. Where the Pioneers sit right now is a place they found themselves last year. The team started 3-1 as well last year but were not able to keep the momentum up as they finished the season with a 9-16-1 record.
Head coach Dave Clausen would like to win every game and find his team in a better position at the end of the season than they were at the end of the last season, but he also understands that the team is incredibly young and needs to develop and grow; something he wants just as much as winning.
“We have eleven players that are sophomores or younger,” he said. “We are going to make mistakes throughout the year just like any hockey team does, I want us to grow and develop as a team and that should lead us in the right direction.”
The men’s team played its first regular-season game of the weekend, which did not end with the outcome they were hoping for. The men’s team traveled to play Wilkes College on Friday night which resulted in a 3-2 loss. The difference in the game ended up being the penalties as Utica, a very disciplined team, for the most part, found themselves in the penalty box 7 times.
After traveling back home the night of, Utica was then hosts of the same Colonels teams at the Memorial Auditorium. The team started slowly as Wilkes at one point of the second period were up by 2 scores. Utica answered back, however, as they went on to score a total of eleven goals in the game to come away with an 11-5 victory and even their season record to 1-1.
Jamie Bucell, a senior forward for the team was able to help lead the Pioneers as he came away with 4 points in the tilt Saturday after the team was able to get back on its feet.
“What helped us propel over Wilkes on Saturday night included getting back to ‘Utica Hockey,’” Bucell said. “Playing strong, heavy and fast. Also, keeping in mind that penalties tend to hurt us, we had to focus on staying out of the box.”
Both teams now prepare to handle another set of back to back games as the women’s team gets ready to square off with Elmira, a team that has consistently dominated in the standings while the men’s team gets set to face Nazareth College, as the team hopes to continue its solid play from Saturday.
“We need to focus on playing our best hockey, the way that we all know how to play,” Bucell said. “When we play our style of hockey, it will clearly show.”