Pioneers explode with big third period in opener

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica College men's hockey team netted five unanswered goals in the final 40 minutes of action to secure a 6-1 victory over visiting Morrisville State before a paid attendance of 3,944 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium Friday night. The Pioneers have now won three consecutive season openers at the Aud. Sophomore transfer Louis Educate made an instant name for himself in front of a delighted crowd on opening night, netting one goal and adding two assists, while junior Ridge Garbutt added a game-high two goals for the Pioneers (1-0). George Lotito registered and one goal and one assist to kick start his junior campaign. 

“It took some time to shake the rust off but I thought we put solid pressure on them in the last two periods,” said Head Coach Gary

Heenan of the Pioneers effort in the final 40 minutes. “Morrisville has a hard working, young team, and they are going to have a good year.  It's important for us to get out to a quick start this year and we have another big test tomorrow night against Fredonia.”

The score was knotted at the end of one full period, 1-1, after Morrisville snuck its lone goal of the evening past Pioneer net minder Nick Therrien just 3:57 into the first period. Therrien finished the evening with 14 saves between the pipes for UC.  The Mustangs' opening goal silenced the crowd, but it took less than four minutes for Lotito to light the lamp and tie the game up at 1-1 late in the seventh minute of action. 

UC netted two goals in the second period to extend to a 3-1 lead.  Garbutt scored first, just 2:36 in, off an assist from Educate to put UC on top 2-1.  Just under six minutes later Educate dazzled the crowd with a nifty move from close range on a break away to hand the Pioneers a two goal advantage.  Junior Jon Gaffney, who tallied two assists on the evening, started the break and dropped a pass back to Educate, who took it home from there. Educate transferred to UC from Nichols College where he was named to the Division III All-Rookie team after finishing the year ranked fifth nationally in points per game. 

The third period was all Utica as the Pioneers outshot the visitors 18-5 and netted three goals in the 20 minute stretch.  Junior Adam Graff, Garbutt and classmate Chris Santiago each added a third period goal to ensure the Pioneer victory.  Their last two goals, from Garbutt and Santiago, came in the final 1:29 of regulation.  Rob Morton and Lotito assisted on Graff's goal 5:07 into the third. Freshman classmates Nick Miglio and Joel Wetmore each recorded their first collegiate assist on the game's final goal. 

Jakob Rasmussen stopped 36 shots in 60 minutes of work for the Mustangs.  Ryan Marcuz opened the scoring for the visitors, while Mike Dolman was credited with the assist. 

On Saturday the Pioneers will take on visiting Fredonia State and the contest will be a part of the AmeriCU I Heart Hockey Night. The Pioneers will wear collector's edition “Heart” jerseys in its game against the Blue Devils and the puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m. The jerseys will be auctioned off throughout the contest until the start of the third period. All proceeds will benefit the American Heart Association.

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