UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The nationally-ranked No. 13 Utica College men's hockey outscored ECAC Men's West Conference newcomer Nazareth College 5-1 in the third period on its way to a 7-2 victory Saturday night in front of 3,847 fans at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Six other Pioneers registered two points and goalie Nick Therrien stopped 24 shots as UC remained perfect on the year (3-0) and improved to 1-0 in conference play.
“We've played well in the third period so far this year and that shows me this group can finish games,” said Head Coach Gary Heenan, who notched his 144th career victory. “Naz is a team to look out for and we certainly were not going to take them lightly. I'm pleased with the result we were able to come away with and we need to keep this momentum going headed into two tough road games at Neumann next weekend.”
The Pioneers will hit the road on Friday when they travel to Neumann for the first of two straight conference contests against the Knights. Friday's match up begins at 7 p.m. and fans can follow all the action through live stats at www.ucpioneers.com or on Twitter @UCPioneers.
UC jumped out to a first period lead when sophomore Justin Hogan skated in on three Naz defenders and found his way to the net through traffic and scored his first of the year on the left side to put the Pioneers on top 1-0. Hogan finished the evening with a goal and an assist. Freshman Donnie Olivieri and junior defender Steve Zappia assisted Hogan. Zappia closed out the afternoon with two assists.
Gaffney scored his first of the night, a short-handed goal, midway through the second period to give the Pioneers a 2-0 lead much to the delight of the packed house at the Aud. Ridge Garbutt and Doug Marshall assisted Gaffney, their only helpers of the evening.
Naz's Ben Waldman put the Soaring Eagles on the board in the 13th minute of the second period to cut UC's lead in half, marking his third goal of the young season.
The Pioneers scored what proved to be the game-winner nearly four minutes into the explosive third period. Sophomore transfer Louis Educate punched home his third goal of the season, assisted by sophomore Peter LaFosse and Rob Morton. Morton (one goal, one assist) and LaFosse (two assists) each finished the night with two points.
Naz would not go down without a fight, as they cut UC's lead to 3-2 to make the game interesting at the 6:11 mark of the third. Packy Jones scored his second of the year for the Soaring Eagles.
UC exploded in the final ten minutes of the contest, netting four unanswered goals, en route to the five goal victory. Gaffney scored two goals in less than four minutes to complete the hat trick, while Morton and Adam Graff capped the scoring. Graff's third goal of the year was ripped into the top left corner of the goal past Naz net minder Ed Zdolshek, after a drop pass by LaFosse. Zdolshek stopped 28 shots in net for the visitors.
Senior captain Evan Chlanda tallied two straight third period assists for UC, while Robert Etts and Eric Peterson each posted an assist on the game's final two goals.
The Pioneers have 22 goals through their first three games and they currently rank third in the nation with an average margin of victory of 6.33. UC is also tied for second in the country, allowing an average of 1.00 goal per game. The Pioneers' rank third nationally with an average of 7.33 goals per game. Gaffney is tied for second in the country with an average of 3.0 points per contest.