The Utica College men’s hockey team still has a bad taste in their mouths from last season.
The Pioneers lost in heartbreaking fashion 2-1 in overtime in the conference championship game as Hobart escaped with the title.
“We’re talking about that game,” head coach Gary Heenan said. “It’s something that’s bothered us and hopefully we can avenge that this year.”
The Pioneers have brought in some reinforcements along the way, including Clinton native Gregg Burmaster, who transferred to Utica College after playing at Division 1 Colorado College for two seasons.
“I wanted to put myself in the best position possible to play for a good team and a great coach,” Burmaster said. “I knew that there was a lot of history here in Utica, I grew up here so this is where I wanted to be.”
Utica College wanted him just as badly, and now it’s time to get to work.
“(Gregg’s) a guy that can just score goals,” Heenan said. He’s going to come in here and play in a top-6 role. You’re going to see him on the power play and we’re lucky to have him. He’s a local boy who’s excited to play in front of his hometown fans.”
Expectations remain high for the Pioneers. They’re the preseason pick to win the UCHC and they open the year ranked 14th in the country.
“I think we should be ranked higher,” Burmaster said. “I think we have something special and we’re a bit underestimated.”
In order for the Pioneers to prove that, they’ll have to pick up wins in the ice.
“Last year we started off with eight straight wins and then we dropped four games to teams that quite frankly I think we should have beaten,” Heenan said. Our challenge this year is taking it one game at a time and not looking past anybody.”
The Pioneers open their season on Friday night with a home matchup against Fredonia at 7pm.