OSWEGO, N.Y. - The nationally-ranked No. 9 Utica College men's hockey team went on the road and topped second-ranked Oswego State, 3-2, in a pivotal non-conference top-ten matchup on Friday night. The Pioneers' jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the first period and sealed the victory with a late empty-netter as the Pioneers, winners of three in a row, defeated the Lakers for the fifth time in 16 meetings all-time. Sophomore Peter LaFosse (Merrimack, NH/Kimball Union Academy), classmate Louis Educate (Chicago, IL/Aberdeen (NAHL)) and senior Rob Morton (New Hartford, NY/Merrimack (Hockey East)) each netted a goal to help the Pioneers advance their overall record to 8-2 on the year.
“Coming out and scoring that first goal really helped to set the tone for the game,” said Head Coach Gary Heenan who is in his 12th season at the helm. “We responded when we had to and I was happy with the effort our guys gave out there tonight. We talked all week about how this was a “hump” game. It's the type of game that helps to define the direction of your season and you need wins like these to reach the next level. With that being said, we don't have much time to regroup and we will get right back to it back at home tomorrow night against Nichols.”
The Pioneers (8-2) handed the Lakers (8-2) their second consecutive loss, as they were coming off a defeat at the hands of Plattsburgh last weekend. Oswego, which held the No. 1 ranking in the country a week ago, had only lost one other time to UC at the Campus Center Ice Area, a similar 3-2 loss in October of last year. Utica and Oswego will meet one more time this year, on Jan. 5th at the Utica Memorial Auditorium (7 p.m.)
Utica has now won three straight games, including two against nationally-ranked opponents, and it will host Nichols College Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Sophomore Peter LaFosse (Merrimack, NH/Kimball Union Academy) got UC going early in the first period when he scored his second goal of the year off assists from junior Adam Graff (Bear, DE/Syracuse Stars (EJHL)) and classmate Trever Hertz (Jaffray, British Columbia/Quesnel Millionaires (BCHL)) just 3:22 into the contest.
Just over five minutes later the Lakers knotted the score up at 1-1 when Kyle Badham scored his first of the year, after a pass from Zach Josepher, late in the eighth minute. With 19 ticks left on the first period clock UC leading scorer Louis Educate (Chicago, IL/Aberdeen (NAHL)) netted his team-best ninth goal of the year to put the Pioneers right back on top 2-1. Educate currently ranks fifth in the country with an average of 1.90 points per game.
Despite being outshot 16-13 in the first 20 minutes of action, the Pioneers were able to start the second period with a one goal advantage. The one goal lead would stick until the Pioneers added an empty netter, from the stick of senior Rob Morton (New Hartford, NY/Merrimack (Hockey East)), with 34 seconds left in regulation.
The country's leading scorer, Paul Rodrigues, put a small scare in UC when he netted an extra-man goal with just five seconds left in the game. The Pioneers were able to burn the final five seconds after that to come away with the victory.
UC goalie Nick Therrien (Rochester, NH/NY Apple Core (EJHL)) registered his seventh win of the season by stopping 29 shots, including 15 in the first period alone. Utica ended up outshooting the home team 33-31. Andrew Hare made 30 saves in net for Oswego.
Neither team netted a power-play goal the entire night, as Oswego went 0-for-4 and UC went 0-for-2.
FOOTAGE COURTESY OF WTOP VIA TIME WARNER CABLE SPORTSCHANNEL