OSWEGO, N.Y. - The nationally-ranked No. 8/9 Utica College men's hockey team tied host and nationally-ranked No. 13/13 Oswego State 2-2 in the championship game of the eighth annual PathFinder Bank Oswego Hockey Classic at the Campus Center Ice Arena on Saturday night. Oswego won the tournament deciding shoot out 2-1 to earn their fifth tournament title in eight tries. The contest will go down in the record column as a tie for both teams as shoot outs are not officially recognized in Division III.
The Pioneers, unbeaten in five of their last six, moved to 9-2-2 overall this season and they are now 3-1-1 against Oswego in their last five meetings. Oswego is 3-0-2 in their last five outings and moved its record to 6-2-2 overall on the season.
The forward line of seniors Jon Gaffney (Dover, NJ/Springfield Blues (NAHL)), Rob Morton (New Hartford, NY/Merrimack (Hockey East)) and freshman Luc Boby (Chicago, IL/Kalamazoo (NAHL)) netted its fourth goal of the weekend as Gaffney tipped home the go-ahead goal with 13:03 left in regulation to put the Pioneers on top by the score of 2-1 in the third period. Oswego's Kenny Neil, who netted both of the Laker goals on the evening, answered for the home squad with 7:03 remaining in regulation to knot the score at 2-2.
"We always expect a tough match up when we head to Oswego and tonight was no different," said Head Coach Gary Heenan who is 169-119-30 in his 13th season as the bench general. "It was a competitive tournament, good atmosphere and a good experience overall for our guys. We're definitely looking forward to playing them again next weekend at the Aud in front of our home crowd."
After a scoreless first period of action each team netted a tally in a span of just over two minutes in the second period. Neil opened the scoring for Oswego at the 13:13 ledger of the second, before UC responded right back 2:11 later when Justin Hogan (Val Therese, Ontario/Brooks Bandits (AJHL)) netted his second of the year to tie the score at 1-1.
Utica's Jon Gaffney (Dover, NJ/Springfield Blues (NAHL)) and Steve Zappia (Buffalo, NY/Buffalo Jr. Sabres (OJAHL)) were each named to the All-Tournament team. Gaffney finished the weekend with three goals. Freshman Luc Boby (Chicago, IL/Kalamazoo (NAHL)) had a break out weekend as he totaled five points on one goal and four assists, while Morton capped the weekend with three helpers to pace the Pioneers.
Freshman goalie Marcus Zelzer (Green Bay, WI/Kenai River (NAHL)) got the nod in net for the Pioneers and did not disappoint, stopping 42 shots as his record moved to 3-0-1 overall on the year. Oswego outshot Utica 44-27 on the evening and Laker goalie Matt Zawadzki made 25 saves in net for the home team.
The Pioneers return home for two straight games next weekend beginning with Western New England University on Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Aud. UC will then take on Oswego State again on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at home.