UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The nationally-ranked No. 3/6 Utica College men's hockey team wrapped up opening weekend with two victories as the Pioneers topped visiting Brockport 5-2 in their home-opener at the Utica Memorial Auditorium Saturday night. UC seniors Trever Hertz (Jaffray, British Columbia/Quesnel Millionaires (BCHL)) and Adam Graff (Bear, DE/Syracuse Stars (EJHL)) each totaled three points as the Pioneers sold out their regular season opener for the second consecutive season (3,815 paid attendance). UC has now opened the season 2-0 in four straight seasons, while Brockport dropped to 0-1 on the year.
"Opening the season with a couple of quality wins is always a positive," said Head Coach Gary Heenan, who was named a finalist for the National Coach of the Year Award last season. "It was a solid team effort in front of another great home crowd. We have a long way to go, but this was a good opening weekend for our guys."
The scoring came early and often as three goals were scored in the first 2:09 of the contest, resulting in a 2-1 lead for the Pioneers. Senior captain Jordan Hobaica (Clinton, NY/Northwood School) tallied his first of the young season just 23 seconds into the contest, but 1:29 later the visitors responded as Andrew Parks and Jake Taylor connected for the Golden Eagles to knot the score at 1-1 at the 1:52 marker.
Just 16 seconds later freshman Zac Lazzaro (Aston, PA/Kenai River (NAHL)) tallied his first collegiate goal, off an assist from Graff, to give the Pioneers a 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish.
Senior Trever Hertz (Jaffray, British Columbia/Quesnel Millionaires (BCHL)) capped the first period scoring when he tallied his first of the year with 5:29 to go in the first stanza. Mike Baird (Oakville, Ontario/Huntsville (OJHL)) and freshman Kevin Kirisits (Buffalo, NY/Brockville (CCHL)) were each credited with an assist on the goal.
The second period was rather uneventful until freshman Easton Power lit the lamp for the first time in his career, with assists going to Hertz and Graff with 4:03 left in the second.
The Pioneers piled it on midway through the third period to take a 5-1 lead as Graff scored his first of the year, assisted by Hertz and senior Rob Morton (New Hartford, NY/Merrimack (Hockey East)).
The Golden Eagles netted a late goal from the stick of Bobby Chayka but it was too late as the Pioneers skated away with a 5-2 victory.
Brockport goalie Aaron Green did all he could to thwart the Pioneer attack, stopping 40 shots in his first loss of the season. UC freshman goalie Marcus Zelzer (Green Bay, WI/Kenai River (NAHL)) picked up his first collegiate win as he stopped 20 shots between the pipes for the Pioneers. Utica outshot Brockport 45-22 on the evening.
Utica returns to the ice for a double header back at home next weekend as the Pioneers take on ECAC Men's West Conference rivals Elmira College and Hobart College consecutively on Friday and Saturday night. The puck will drop for both contests at 7 p.m.