OSWEGO, N.Y. - The nationally-ranked No. 8/9 Utica College men's hockey team rallied from an early 2-1 deficit by scoring three unanswered goals to defeat University of Wisconsin-Stout 4-2 in the opening match of the eighth annual PathFinder Bank/Oswego Classic hosted by Oswego State Friday afternoon. The Pioneers advance to Saturday's finals at 7 p.m. and will take on the winner of the other semi-final contest between host Oswego State and Curry College.
UC, winners of three in a row and four of its last five, has now improved to 9-2-1 overall this year. UW-Stout, which defeated nationally-ranked No. 3 UW-Stevens Point before the holiday break, dropped its record to 3-8 overall, and the Blue Devils have now lost seven of their last eight outings.
"This is traditionally one of the best tournaments in the country and we are excited to be a part of it. It's always good to come back from a break and earn a win against a quality opponent," said Head Coach Gary Heenan. "We struggled a little bit in the first period but I was happy to see our guys turn it on in the final two periods."
Utica senior Jon Gaffney (Dover, NJ/Springfield Blues (NAHL)), classmate Rob Morton (New Hartford, NY/Merrimack (Hockey East)) and freshman Luc Boby (Chicago, IL/Kalamazoo (NAHL)) led the Pioneers to the come from behind victory. Gaffney registered two goals, Morton added two assists and Boby posted a career-best one goal and two assists to pace the Pioneers.
UW-Stout's Jordan Tredinnick opened the scoring in the first period as he deflected a shot off a Utica defenseman and past UC goalie Nick Therrien (Rochester, NH/NY Apple Core (EJHL)) to give the Blue Devils a 1-0 lead 8:01 into the contest. The Pioneers answered just over three minutes later when Gaffney netted his first of two goals off assists from Morton and Boby.
Before the end of the first period the Blue Devils took the lead back when Russ Whited netted his first of the season, off an assist from Derek Sand, to put UW-Stout in the driver's seat, 2-1, headed into the first intermission.
Utica dominated the second period of play, outshooting the Blue Devils 22-5 on the 20 minute stretch, and throughout the barrage Gaffney sniped his second goal of the night and third of the season. Boby was again the assist man on the game-tying goal midway through the second period.
The score was set at 2-2 past the midway point of the third period until junior All-American Louie Educate (Chicago, IL/Aberdeen (NAHL)) found a wide open Trever Hertz (Jaffray, British Columbia/Quesnel Millionaires (BCHL)) on the door step and Hertz finished his fourth goal of the season to give UC a 3-2 advantage with less than nine minutes left in regulation.
With 2:08 to go in the contest Boby sealed the victory for the Pioneers when he netted his second of the season, off assists from Steve Zappia (Buffalo, NY/Buffalo Jr. Sabres (OJAHL)) and Rob Morton (New Hartford, NY/Merrimack (Hockey East)), to set the final score at 4-2.
Utica outshot the Blue Devils 43-34 on the afternoon and senior goalie Nick Therrien (Rochester, NH/NY Apple Core (EJHL)) shook off the holiday rust and did not allow a goal in the final 42:05 of the contest as he turned away 32 shots in net for the Pioneers. Corey Koop made 39 saves between the pipes for the Blue Devils.