ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WKTV) - The nationally-ranked #3/6 Utica College men's hockey team netted three unanswered goals in the final two periods, to rally from an early 1-0 deficit, on its way to an ECAC Mens' West Conference victory over host Nazareth College, 3-1, in the season opener for both squads Friday night.
Three different Pioneers led the charge, as sophomores Nick Miglio (Boerne, TX/Bismarck (NAHL)) and Donny Olivieri (Philadelphia, PA/Bismarck (NAHL)), as well as junior Justin Hogan (Val Therese, Ontario/Brooks Bandits (AJHL)), each netted a goal for UC. UC improved to 1-0 and the Pioneers are now undefeated in seven consecutive regular season openers.
Utica, ranked third in the nation by D3hockey.com and sixth in the country by USCHO.com, received an early scare when Nazareth took a 1-0 lead just 1:14 into the contest, much to the delight of the home crowd. Ben Blasko got the Golden Flyers on the board, assisted by Julius Tamasy and Chris Murray. After the initial score, both team were kept off the scoreboard after 20 full minutes of action and the Golden Flyers took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
The Pioneers shook the offseason rust and netted their first goal of the season, from the stick of sophomore Justin Hogan (Val Therese, Ontario/Brooks Bandits (AJHL)), with less than four minutes to go in the second period. Hogan's first of the year was assisted by junior classmate Mike Baird (Oakville, Ontario/Huntsville (OJHL)). UC took the lead for the first time in the game less than a minute later when sophomore Nick Miglio (Boerne, TX/Bismarck (NAHL)) lit the lamp, unassisted, to put the Pioneers on top 2-1 with 2:53 left in the second intermission.
Sophomore defender Donny Olivieri (Philadelphia, PA/Bismarck (NAHL)) added an insurance goal for Utica on a power-play 1:38 into the third period to give UC a 3-1 advantage. Senior all-conference defenseman Mike Slowikowski (Ewing, NJ/N.J. Hitmen (EJHL)) notched the first assist of his senior campaign on Olivieri's goal. Olivieri is off to another good start after lead the nation in freshman defenseman scoring one year ago.
Utica senior goalie Nick Therrien (Rochester, NH/NY Apple Core (EJHL)) stopped 29 shots in the victory. UC outshot the home squad 40-30 and the Pioneers penalty kill unit was perfect, shutting out the Golden Flyers on seven power-play opportunities, including three in the third period alone. UC is now 4-0 all-time against Naz, a second year program. The Pioneers have outscored the Golden Flyers 22-6 in the four game span.
Naz goalie Ed Zdolshek made 37 saves in the loss.
Utica heads right home tomorrow night for its home-opener at the Utica Memorial Auditorium as the Pioneers square off against Brockport State. The contest is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.