Utica, N.Y. (February 7, 2014) – The nationally ranked No. 15 Utica College men's hockey team won its second straight ECAC West Conference game on Friday night as the Pioneers downed rival Neumann University 3-1 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
The score was knotted at 1-1 for the majority of the contest until freshman forward Luc Boby (Chicago, IL/Kalamazoo (NAHL)) tallied his second game-winner of the season just over five minutes into the third and final period. Utica senior Ridge Garbutt (Toronto, Ontario/Brewster Academy (NH)) added an insurance tally on an open net with 30 seconds left in the contest to secure the victory for the Pioneers.
"We're starting to gain some momentum down the stretch here and it feels good," said 13th year Head Coach Gary Heenan. "We have four more home games to close out the regular season and we definitely need these types of wins to head into the conference tournament on a high note. We're going to come right back here to the Aud tomorrow to try to keep the ball rolling."
The Pioneers improved to 12-5-4 overall and 7-3-1 in conference play. UC currently sits atop the conference standings with 15 points, having played one more conference game than Elmira (second place – 14 points) and Hobart (third place – 13 points). Neumann fell to 7-9-4 overall and 2-6-2 in ECAC West play.
Garbutt led the Pioneers with two points on the evening, as he assisted junior defender Mike Baird (Oakville, Ontario/Huntsville (OJHL)) on the game's opening goal. Baird received a pass from Garbutt and senior forward Louie Educate (Chicago, IL/Aberdeen (NAHL)) and scored the power-play goal to give UC a 1-0 lead with less than a minute to go in the first period.
Neumann answered right back and tied the score at 1-1 with two ticks left on the first period clock as Ryan Luiten and Sam House connected with Steve Low to knot the score at one goal a piece.
Both teams skated to a stalemate in the second period and the score was set at 1-1 headed into the final 20 minutes of action.
The Pioneers were able to net the final two goals of the contest, as Boby registered what proved to be the game-winner 5:08 into the final stanza, and Garbutt added the third Pioneer goal with 30 seconds left to help Utica secure its fourth straight 12+ win season. Seniors Jon Gaffney (Dover, NJ/Springfield Blues (NAHL)) and Steve Zappia (Buffalo, NY/Buffalo Jr. Sabres (OJAHL)) assisted Boby's game-winner, while Trever Hertz (Jaffray, British Columbia/Quesnel Millionaires (BCHL)) added a helper on Garbutt's empty-netter.
Hertz currently leads the team with 19 points this season (seven goals, 12 assists). He now needs four more points to become just the third player in school-history to register 100 or more career points.
Utica senior goalie Nick Therrien (Rochester, NH/NY Apple Core (EJHL)) stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced as he earned his ninth victory of the season. The UC penalty kill unit was able to hold the Knights to an 0-for-5 effort with an extra-skater advantage.
Neumann goalie Ben Curley stopped 24 shots as the Knights were outshot 27-19 on the evening.
The Pioneers have now defeated Neumann in three straight meetings dating back to last season, outscoring the Knights 15-5 in the stretch.
Both teams return to action Saturday night for a 7 p.m. face-off at the Utica Auditorium. The contest is a part of a double-header where the UC women's hockey team will also take on visiting Neumann in the opening game at 4 p.m.