The nationally-ranked No. 13 Utica College men’s hockey team made a huge statement on a big stage Saturday night by defeating second-ranked Oswego State 3-2 in front of 3,499 fans at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The Pioneers outscored the visitors 2-0 in the second period and jumped out to a 3-1 lead headed into the final stanza. UC showed great poise under pressure, as they committed just three penalties all night, and sophomore goalie Nick Therrien stopped 26 shots to help Utica preserve its third period lead.
“A win like this on our home ice is a big confidence booster for guys,” said 11th year Head Coach Gary Heenan. “Weshowed great discipline and we worked hard on both ends all night. I’m really proud of our guys and I think we proved that we can play with anyone in the country tonight.”
UC snapped a four game losing streak against the Lakers dating back to 2007 and they also improved to 2-0 on the year after beating Brockport State 5-3 at home last Saturday.
Sophomore forward Trever Hertz netted one goal and added one assist, while classmate Mike Slowikowski also added two points (one goal, one assist). New Hartford native Rob Morton added two assists to pace the Pioneers.
Junior forward Evan Chlanda got things going in the first period when he scored his second goal of the evening on the power-play to give UC an early 1-0 lead. Morton and sophomore Steve Charest were each credited with an assist on the game’s first goal.
Less than six minutes later Oswego’s Taylor Farris knotted the score up at 1-1 when he tallied his first goal of the year off assists from Andrew Mather and Jon Whitelaw.
Slowikowski rifled in the go-ahead go for Utica 4:41 into the second period of play. Hertz played the puck around the net to sophomore Adam Graff to start the scoring play. Graff then fed Slowikowski and he ripped a wrist shot past Oswego goalie Andrew Hare from just outside the left faceoff circle.
Hertz scored the eventual game-winner with 58 seconds to go in the second period. His game-winner actually went under review because it popped off the back post and out of the net after crossing the goal line. Morton and Slowikowski set Hertz up to put the Pioneers on top 3-1 headed into the final period.
Oswego out shot Utica 14-9 in the final period, but they could only get one goal across, as Therrien stood on his head in the final 14 minutes to secure the UC victory. Farris scored his second goal of the evening for the Lakers in the third period, but it proved to be too late, as the Pioneers’ earned the pivotal non conference victory.
Hare finished the day with 28 saves for Oswego.
UC returns to the Aud next Friday night when it joins forces with AmeriCU Credit Union and KISS FM to “Pink the Rink’ and raise breast cancer awareness in the Pioneers game against ECAC Men’s West Conference foe Elmira College. The Pioneers will wear collector’s edition pink jerseys in their game against the Soaring Eagles. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.