UTICA, N.Y. - The Utica College men's hockey team won its third straight game after defeating visiting Cortland State 4-2 in front of 2,622 fans at the Utica Memorial Auditorium Saturday night. Freshman forward Soichiro Omi netted two goals in the Pioneer victory.
Utica is now 9-4-2 overall headed into their final non conference contest of the season against Curry College at 7 p.m. on Thursday. After Thursday the Pioneers face the daunting task of nine consecutive ECAC Men’s West Conference contests to close out the regular season. UC looks to improve on its 3-3 conference record in those final nine contests.
Cortland has now lost three straight games and dropped to 5-8-1 on the season. Cortland is now 0-5-2 in seven meetings all-time against the Pioneers. The Red Dragons continue their eight game road trip on Friday when they travel to Plymouth State for the first of a two-game weekend set. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.
Newcomer Scott Birnstill opened the scoring for UC when he netted his first collegiate goal off his own rebound2:14 into the contest to give UC an early 1-0 lead. Junior Aaron Jeffery and freshman Jake Coyle were each credited with an assist on the game’s opening goal. Cortland answered back on the power-play just over eight minutes later when Justin Porpora tallied his fourth goal of the season to knot the contest up at 1-1. Jarrett Gold and Mike Maier each tallied an assist on the Red Dragons first goal of the contest.
UC netted three second period goals to take a commanding 4-1 lead. Senior captain Bryce Dale opened the second period onslaught when he ripped home a picture perfect crossing pass from freshman defender Max White at the 11:40 mark to give UC a 2-1 lead. Dale’s fourth goal of the season, which beat Cortland goalie Dan Jewell on the right side, was also assisted by senior grinder TJ Schneider.
Freshman Soichiro Omi then added his seventh and eighth goals of the season to give UC the lead for good. Dale and Schneider assisted on Omi’s first goal that gave UC a 3-1 lead at the 14:31 mark before senior assistant captain Josh Merson assisted on Omi’s second goal of the night just over two minutes later.
Patrick Palmisano added a third period power-play goal, his sixth of the season, off an assist from Mike Maier to cut the Pioneers lead to 4-2 with just under 12 minutes to go in the contest.
Junior goalie Anthony Luckow stopped 17 shots and improved to 5-0-1 on the year while Jewell made 24 saves in net for Cortland and dropped to 1-4-1 overall this season.
Both of Cortland’s goals came on the power-play and they finished with the 19 total shots. Utica went 1-of-6 on the power play and totaled 28 shots.