UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - For the second year in a row, the Utica College men's hockey team captured at least a share of the ECAC West Conference regular season title as the Pioneers downed visiting Manhattanville College, 5-3, Friday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
With the win, the Pioneers secure the top seed in the Conference tournament. This marks the second time in as many years and just the third time ever that Utica has won the regular season crown.
UC got on the board just 4:27 into the contest as Louie Educate (Chicago, IL/Aberdeen (NAHL)) netted his fifth of the year, off assists from Ridge Garbutt (Toronto, Ontario/Brewster Academy (NH)) and Trever Hertz (Jaffray, British Columbia/Quesnel Millionaires (BCHL)). Just two and a half minutes later, the Valiants converted a power play opportunity to even the score as Luc Van Natter scored his 13th of the year. Anton Racklin and Louie Balzano assisted on Van Natter's tally.
Manhattanville got one back just over halfway through the third period as Van Natter tallied his second of the night, off an assist from Jake Mooney. In the final two minutes, Utica got into penalty trouble, leading to a 5-on-3 power play for the Valiants. Manhattanville was able to capitalize on the two-man advantage, scoring with 28 seconds remaining to bring the score to 4-3. Garbutt was able to ice the game with 1.8 seconds remaining as he tallied an empty netter, his second shorthanded goal of the game, to secure the win. Garbutt now leads the nation with four shorthanded goals.
Nick Therrien (Rochester, NH/NY Apple Core (EJHL)) made 31 saves in the win, while Alex Scola had 24 saves in the loss. The Pioneers improve to 15-5-4 overall and 10-3-1 in the ECAC West. Manhattanville drops to 11-11-2 and 4-8-2 in the conference.
Both teams wrap up the series Saturday night at 7 p.m. If Utica wins, it will capture the ECAC West title, outright.