UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The top-seeded Utica College men's hockey team lost 2-1 in overtime against No. 4 Manhattanville in the ECAC Men's West Conference Tournament semifinals in front of 3,682 fans at the Utica Memorial Auditorium Saturday night. The Pioneers outshot the visitors 41-22 on the afternoon, but Manhattanville's Paul Sirignano netted the game-winner 8:24 into the overtime period to help lift the Valiants (15-9-3) to the ECAC West Conference Tournament Finals where they will take on Neumann University next Saturday.
The Pioneers (20-5-1), ranked No. 1 in the latest NCAA Division III East Regional Rankings, will now await a possible bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament. The NCAA selections will be released on Sunday, March 3rd after 10 p.m. The Valiants will travel to Neumann, which knocked off second-seeded Hobart College, 2-0, in the other conference tournament semifinal Saturday.
Valiant goalie Alex Scola, who has come on strong late in the season, stopped 40 shots to pace the Manhattanville defense. M'Ville's fourth-ranked penalty kill unit also provided a key boost for the visitors, as they killed all five of the Pioneers' power-play opportunities, including two in the third period and one in the overtime stretch.
After a scoreless first period of play, which saw UC earn a 15-6 shot advantage, the Pioneers got on the board first when junior forward Adam Graff (Bear, DE/Syracuse Stars (EJHL)) laced home a rebound, five hole, much to the delight of the raucous Utica fan base. Junior forward Trever Hertz (Jaffray, British Columbia/Quesnel Millionaires (BCHL)) was credited with an assist on the Pioneer tally.
The Valiants took just 3:07 to answer on the power-play as Paul Allan Bamber knotted the score at 1-1 with his third goal of the season, after assists from Anton Racklin and Jason Bowles.
Neither team could crack the scoreboard in the third period despite the fact that the Pioneers had two power-play chances and the contest was sent to overtime. The Valiants outlasted an early Pioneer power-play and Sirignano added the game-winner to silence the UC contingent.
Utica goalie Nick Therrien (Rochester, NH/NY Apple Core (EJHL)) stopped 20 shtos as his record fell to 18-4-1 on the year.