GENEVA, N.Y. — Down 3-0 entering the third period, Utica came charging back to make the game close. But Hobart held on, scoring a critical goal midway through the period to win 4-2. The victory clinched a playoff spot for Hobart.
“They compete. They’re a good team,” said Hobart coach Mark Taylor. “You’ve got to keep that mentality of keeping at them. We got away from that little early in the third period and they took advantage of it.”
Utica applied offensive pressure early in the third period; Hobart got into penalty trouble handling the pressure and Utica converted near the end of an extended power play. Jeff Mohney scored the first Pioneer goal 5:06 into the third period with a big blast from the point that wound through a screen.
Just two minutes later, Jimmy Sokol skated out of the corner and wristed the puck through another screen to pull Utica back within one goal. At that point, Utica was able to generate more traffic in front of the Hobart net than at any other time in the game.
However, after Utica’s second goal Hobart turned on its offense again. The insurance goal for the Statesmen came at 13:47 of the period. Craig Levey sent what looked like a harmless shot towards the Utica net from the top of the slot. Jesse Desper redirected the puck just past the post, into the corner of the net for the goal.
“Look at that game — a lot in their end, you get the opportunities and don’t score,” said Utica coach Gary Heenan. “Hobart’s experience came through in the end.”
The first ten minutes of the game were a defensive struggle through the neutral zone. It was playoff-style hockey, with a berth in the playoffs on the line, as each team felt out the other.
The only goal of the period came off a ferocious Hobart forecheck. Utica had three chances to clear the puck, but every time there was a Statesman there to keep it in.
“We knew to beat them we had to forecheck real hard,” said Taylor. “We had to get action in front of their net. And that’s what we were able to do on the first goal.”
Andy Kasprczak started the play that resulted in Hobart’s goal. He sent a big blast down the slot that Utica goaltender Jake Miskovic saved, but the rebound dropped down in to the crease. Several whacks later, Andy Herlihy was able to lift the rebound over Miskovic for the goal at 10:18.
Offensive opportunities dotted the second period. Both teams opened up some, and total shots increased from just 11 in the first period to 29 in the second.
Only Hobart was able to convert the opportunities into goals during the second. R.C. Schmidt tallied with a backhander 2:18 in, and Trevor Gowan scored on a blast from the blue line at 9:18 to stake Hobart to a 3-0 lead.
Utica was able to pour significant pressure on the Hobart net during two power plays in the period, but the Pioneers couldn’t solve Hobart netminder Adam Lavelle.