UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Sophomore forward Louie Educate (Chicago, IL/Aberdeen (NAHL)) ripped home the lone goal of the evening with 4:50 left in the contest as the nationally-ranked No. 3/8 Utica College men's hockey team earned a 2-1 season series advantage over conference leading and nationally-ranked No. 5/5 Hobart College with a 1-0 victory on Sunday at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
“We were a little shaky at the start today and luckily we had good goaltending that helped to keep us in the game. I credit our guys for sticking with this one,” said Head Coach Gary Heenan. “Anytime you can come away with a win in the ECAC West it's a great day, especially against a hard working and skilled team like Hobart. You need wins like this to make it to the next level. We still have a ways to go but we're very happy with a conference win on our home ice today.”
The Pioneers rebounded form an overtime loss at the hands of the Statesmen on Friday night as they improved to 17-4 overall and 7-3 in ECAC Men's West Conference play. 17 wins for UC ties the program's all-time record set back in 2010-11. Hobart, which sits in first place in the ECAC West with a 9-1-1 conference ledger, dropped to 17-3-2 overall on the year.
The Pioneers outshot the visitors 40-35 on the afternoon and both teams were held scoreless on the power-play (Utica 0-for-6, Hobart 0-for-4).
Utica goalie Nick Therrien (Rochester, NH/NY Apple Core (EJHL)) stopped all 35 shots that he faced on his way to his 15th victory of the season. It was also the second shutout of the season for Therrien, who ranks second in the nation with 15 wins.
Educate's game-winner came after a centering pass from junior assistant captain Jon Gaffney (Dover, NJ/Springfield Blues (NAHL)). The one-timer was drilled into the top right corner of the net past Hobart goalie Nick Broadwater, who still leads the nation in both goals against average (1.52) and save percentage (.945) this season.
Shortly after Educate's goal the Statesmen earned a man-advantage when Adam Graff (Bear, DE/Syracuse Stars (EJHL)) was called for a slashing penalty with less than three minutes to go in the game. Hobart was able to pull Broadwater for an extra skater with 1:05 left in the contest, but they could not manage to sneak one past the stingy Pioneer' penalty kill unit and the score remained 1-0 as the final horn sounded.
Educate now ranks eighth in the nation with an average of 1.57 points per contest on 16 goals and 17 assists. Utica's Ridge Garbutt (Toronto, Ontario/Brewster Academy (NH)) was also credited with an assist on the Pioneers' game-winner.
Utica currently ranks fifth in the country with an average margin of victory of 2.43.
UC returns to the Aud on Friday night when it hosts first-year program and ECAC West opponent Nazareth College for the Pioneers final regular season home game at 7 p.m.