Men's Hockey: #12 Pioneers take down #6 Amherst
UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Sophomore forward Jon Gaffney netted two goals to guide the nationally-ranked No. 12 Utica College men's hockey team to a convincing 3-0 shutout victory over No. 6 Amherst College in front of 2,873 elated fans Saturday evening at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
“It was a great weekend all around for our hockey program,” said 11th year Head Coach Gary Heenan of his squads tie against Elmira Friday and win over the Lord Jeffs on Saturday. “To come away with a big win tonight against a high quality opponent like Amherst is going to go along way for us down the stretch. Now we have seven straight conference games to close out the regular season and you can basically throw the records out for the rest of the way.”
The Pioneers return to the ice Friday night as they host ECAC West foe Hobart College at “The Aud” before heading to Geneva, N.Y. Saturday evening for the second contest of the home-and-home weekend set. The Statesmen currently hold a 9-7 overall record, while posting a 1-3 ledger in conference play.
Gaffney's linemates Steve Charest and Chris Santiago were each credited with an assist on his two goals and sophomore goalie Evan Smith stopped 12 shots in his first collegiate shut out.
UC got on the board first as it took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period when Gaffney put home his ninth goal of the season after assists from Santiago and Charest. The visitors killed two UC power-play opportunities early in the period as the Pioneers managed a 12-2 shot advantage in the first 20 minutes of action.
Utica was able to push its lead to 2-0 late in the second period when New Hartford, N.Y. native Rob Morton slipped his fourth goal of the season past Amherst net minder Nathan Corey at the 16:55 ledger. Junior Evan Chlanda and sophomore defender Mike Slowikowski were each credited with an assist on the Pioneers second goal of the evening.
UC sealed the 3-0 victory 6:02 into the third period of play when a persistent Gaffney shoved home a loose puck for his tenth score of the year and second of the evening. The Pioneers garnered a 25-12 shot advantage over the Lord Jeffs in the 60 minute contest.
Amherst snapped a four game winning streak as their record moved to 12-3-1 overall on the year. The Lord Jeffs have had a tough time in non-conference play this season, posting a 3-2-1 record in non-NESCAC affairs. Corey made 22 saves in net for the visitors.
Utica is now 10-1-1 this season while playing at home in front of the largest average crowd in all of NCAA Division III hockey.