UTICA, N.Y. - The Utica College men's hockey team dropped a heartbreaking 5-4 overtime decision against visiting Curry College in non conference play Thursday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
UC held a 3-1 advantage at the end of two periods but allowed three goals in the third period and the game-winner with 23 seconds left in overtime as they dropped to 9-5-2 overall on the year. Curry, which improved to 10-3-1 overall, scored the game's final four goals en route to its second straight win over Utica in as many seasons.
The Colonels came from behind last season and defeated UC 3-2 on Dec. 8, 2007. John Williams tallied the game-winner, his team-high tenth of the season, with just 23 seconds left on the overtime clock. Michael Guzzo and Jason Tarbell assisted on Williams' second game-winner of the season. Freshman stand out Tim Coffman gave UC a 1-0 lead at the 11:08 mark of the first period when he beat Curry goalie Zachary Cardella for his team-best 14th goal of the season. Junior Vincent Nucci and freshman Brian Gibbons assisted on the game's first goal. Newcomer Scott Birstill scored his second goal in three games to give UC a 2-0 lead early in the first period. Freshman classmate Max White sent in the initial shot that was eventually knocked home by Birnstill.
Curry answered back to cut the Pioneers' lead to 2-1 when Jason Tarbell scored his third goal of the season at the 6:07 mark of the second period. UC freshman defender Chad Bazin negated Tarbell's goal when he found the back of the net less than two minutes later and the Pioneers held a 3-1 advantage with just under 12 minutes to go in the second stanza. Bazin's second goal of the year came off a rebound as he crashed the net after junior Aaron Jeffery sent in the initial shot on goal.
Freshman Brian Gibbons scored his first collegiate goal 1:19 later to give UC a commanding 4-1 lead with just over ten minutes to go in the second period. Nucci added his second assist of the night on the Pioneers final goal of the game. Curry then scored four unanswered goals starting with Jonathan Miller's first goal of the season at the 9:13 mark of the third period to cut UC's lead in half. 6:02 later Payden Benning beat UC junior goalie Anthony Luckow for his third goal of the season and the Colonels found themselves down just one goal, 4-3, with 4:45 left in the contest.
The game-tying goal came from team-leading scorer Jeffrey Hazelwood after Curry pulled its goalie with just under 30 seconds to go in regulation. Hazelwood's ninth goal of the season tied the game up, 4-4, with 22 seconds left in the final period and it was assisted by Michael Guzzo and Jason Tarbell. UC went 0-for-6 on the power-play while Curry converted on one power-play goal out of nine chances. Curry out shot UC 32-21 on the evening. Cardella stopped 17 shots in net for the Colonels and improved to 5-2 overall on the year while Luckow made 27 saves in net for UC and dropped to 5-1-1 overall on the year.
The Pioneers now face the daunting task of nine consecutive ECAC Men's West Conference contests to close out the regular season beginning with a visit to Manhattanville College on Jan. 24 at 7 p.m.. UC looks to improve on its 3-3 conference record in those final nine contests. Curry will host ECAC Northeast rival Franklin Pierce on Saturday as they look to go 8-0 in conference play this year. The puck is scheduled to drop at 4:35 p.m.