UTICA, NY (WKTV) - The nationally-ranked No. 3/5 Utica College men's hockey team jumped out to a 3-1 second period lead and was able to hang on for a 4-3 victory over ECAC Men's West Conference rival Elmira College on Friday night.
The Pioneers improved to 3-0 for the second consecutive season and moved their record to 2-0 in conference play.
Eight different players scored at least one point for UC, including senior captain Jon Gaffney, who tallied a game-high three assists. All-American junior Louie Educate and senior forward Ridge Garbutt each tallied a goal and an assist for the Pioneers.
"Any time you can come away with a win in the ECAC West I think you have to be happy with the result. With that being said, we let in three power-play goals and went 0-for-9 on the power-play, so we know that special teams is a facet of our game that we need to work on," said Head Coach Gary Heenan. "Protecting our home ice is very important to us and we have to turn right back around tomorrow night and try to do it all over again against Hobart."
UC, which sold out The Aud for the second consecutive home game (3,815 paid attendance), will host nationally-ranked No. 9/9 Hobart College in another conference contest on Saturday night. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.
UC led 3-1 headed into the final period of play, but the Soaring Eagles would not go down without a fight as they netted a power-play tally 1:15 into the final stanza to cut their deficit to 3-2. UC's Garbutt put the Pioneers back on top 4-2 at just under four minutes into the third period, but Elmira responded once again with another power play goal, cutting UC's lead back to one goal, 4-3, with 13 minutes left in the contest. All three of Elmira's goals came on the power-play. Utica senior goalie Nick Therrien and the Pioneers' defense stood strong for the final 13 minutes of the contest to preserve the one goal victory. Therrien finished the evening with 25 saves.
For the second consecutive game, the Pioneers were able to score the first goal in the first minute of play as Educate stuffed home his first goal of the season off assists from Garbutt and Gaffney. Neither team scored for the remainder of the period and the Pioneers held a 1-0 lead headed into the first intermission.
Elmira came to play in the second period, outshooting the Pioneers 20-10 in the 20 minute stretch, but two goals from UC less than a minute apart in the final two minutes of the period helped the home team take a 3-1 lead into the final period. Mike Baird scored his first of the year with 1:34 left in the second period off assists from Rob Morton and Trever Hertz, while Nick Miglio added a short-handed goal with 39 seconds left in the second to give the Pioneers the two goal lead headed into the final stanza.
Carter Shinkaruk led Elmira with one goal and one assist, while Josh Burnell and Brian Depp each added a goal for the Soaring Eagles. Elmira goalie Sal Magliocco stopped 33 shots as the Soaring Eagles record dropped to 1-2 overall on the year. Elmira finished the evening 3-for-8 on the power-play as Utica went 0-for-9 with an extra skater advantage. Utica out shot Elmira 37-28 on the afternoon.