GENEVA, N.Y. — Hobart and Utica traded goals through the first two periods of tonight’s ECAC West league game. But the Statesmen were finally able to hold onto a lead in the third period on their way to a 5-4 win, solidifying their second place standing in the league.
From the opening faceoff, Utica jumped all over Hobart, swarming the net and Statesmen goaltender Dmitri Papaevagelou with shots. Hobart weathered an early Pioneers power play that started less than a minute into the contest.
“I couldn’t be happier with Dmitri getting the win,” said Hobart coach Mark Taylor. “I’m started to see some signs of Dmitri getting back to being Dmitri.”
Utica managed to tally the first goal of the game shortly afterward the power play ended. Colin Kingston jumped on a rebound, off a shot from the right face off circle by Bryce Dale, and scored to give Utica a 1-0 lead at the 4:42 mark.
The Pioneers lead was short lived, as Hobart struck right back scoring on only their second shot of the game at 5:58. The Utica defender had the puck roll off his stick while carrying up the left boards, and Hobart’s Mike McCarthy jumped on it. McCarthy spotted Jonathan Swift streaking down the slot, fed him the puck, and Swift one timed it over Utica goaltender Adam Dekker’s blocker to tie the game 1-1.
“Answering back quickly helped,” said Taylor. “We had a lot of guys that contributed from a lot of different places. The depth really helped us out.”
The remainder of the period was evenly played as each team vied for an advantage. Both goaltenders came up with big scrambling saves to keep the goal scorers at bay, and the period ended tied 1-1.
The offenses of both teams sprang to life in the second period, trading goals within short spans of each other. Utica got the ball rolling first at 4:26 when the Pioneers finished off a nifty passing play with a power play goal at 4:26 to retake the lead.
Vinny Rinaldi started the play for Utica from the middle slot. Rinaldi hit Nick Lynch just to the right of the net with a pass. As Lynch slowly drifted backwards towards the corner, he spotted Colin Kingston post at the far side of the crease, and Kingston one-timed the puck into the net for the Pioneers goal.
Utica held the lead for just over five minutes before Hobart answered back to tie the game 2-2. As the puck squirted across the top of the crease, Utica netminder Adam Dekker was pulled out of position and became entangled with one of his defenseman. Hobart took advantage of the opportunity when Greg Gallagher put a huge blast from the point into the now empty net at 9:43 to score the goal.
Hobart took its first lead of the game at 13:04 when Will Bodine rushed into the zone and lifted the puck over Dekker’s shoulder to give the Statesmen a 3-2 lead,
But just like Hobart had been answering Utica’s two leads early in the game, the Pioneers were quick to tie the game up 3-3. Exactly one minute after Hobart took the lead, Tiger Marcotte scored for Utica from a tight angle to knot the game for the third time.
Hobart carried a power play over into the third period and converted just forty three seconds into the new stanza to take its final lead of the night. Greg Gallagher took a shot from the high slot that was blocked out front by a Utica defender. But the puck squirted onto Edward Poirier’s stick near the right face off circle and Poirier wristed the puck into the net before Dekker could get over to block it to give Hobart a 4-3 lead.
Hobart almost extended its lead mid-period, but the Pioneer defenders twice swept away loose pucks in the crease before the Statesmen could convert.
The Statesmen pressure finally paid dividends again at 17:31 when Jason Merritt found himself alone in the slot with the puck right off a faceoff, and beat Dekker to extent Hobart’s lead to 5-3.
Utica coach Gary Heenan pulled netminder Dekker with just under two minutes remaining and the tactic worked. Nick Lynch scored off a rebound at 18:57 to narrow the Pioneers deficit to 5-4.
But that is as close as Utica would get, as Hobart held off Utica during the remaining minute for the 5-4 victory.