UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica College hockey team opens their 2012-13 season Friday night at the Aud against Morrisville. The Pioneers took to the ice for the first time on Sunday, so they've had just a few days to get ready.
"it should play to our advantage that we've only had three days of practice going into Friday," says head coach Gary Heenan. "We've got 22 returning players, so it's been a long time since we've had a team this old actually. That's a great thing. When you only have three days, they know the system from last year, we're not going to change a great deal up, we're going to play with what we know we play well in. We drop the puck Friday we'll be ready."
You'd think Heenan's team would have a lot of work to do, but this team is their most experienced coming back in the last few years. Their top three goal scorers from last year, Evan Chlanda, Jon Gaffney and Trever Hertz, are all back, so UC is confident it won't take long to work out the kinks.
"We'll see what we can do as a team, we brought in a couple new guys that will add to our chemistry as a team," says Chlanda. "Just looking to build on last year, every single year just trying to build on it, as an individual as well."
Also back this year is Clinton native Jordan Hobaica, who along with New Hartford's Rob Morton, are the team's two local boys. Both are excited to start the new season of Pioneer hockey.
"I'm very proud to be here, I've come a long way," says Hobaica. "To be able to come back home and play in front of all these people, play for coach Heenan, it's a special thing, not only because we grab 4,000 fans a game, but to be able to come back to this Aud where I've grown up watching the Devils, the Blizzards, the Prowlers. To be able to play in front of all those fans is beyond words, it's special and I can't wait for Friday night to see them all back in the Aud for another season."
The first puck is set to drop Friday night at 7 against Morrisville. "I Heart Hockey" night is Saturday at 7 against Fredonia State.