GENEVA, N.Y. — In the opening weekend of ECAC West league play, the Utica Pioneers (4-0) defeated the Hobart Statesmen (0-1) by a score of 3-2. Utica scored first and never trailed in the game but had to withstand a strong third period surge by the Statesmen to claim the victory.
“Any time you are playing on the road in Hobart it is a challenge,” said Utica head coach Gary Heenan. “The ice is fast, the barn is small. We were in the box the whole first half. We killed some great penalties. In the third we hung on to win. It wasn’t pretty but the guys did a great job and our goaltender played very well”
Utica killed off all five power plays that Hobart had in the first two periods of the game.
“Our PK has been good coming into the game,” continued Heenan. “The young guys are doing a great job going to the right spots. Your goalie has to be your best PK guy and he was tonight.”
Hobart’s first break of the game came eleven minutes in when Pioneer Doug Marshall took Bobby Hannah hard to the end boards and received a major penalty for boarding. However a Statesmen penalty just over a minute and a half later negated the Hobart power play.
Utica took advantage of the reprieve and scored the first goal of the game. Sophomore Evan Chlanda sprung the puck out from behind the net and spotted sophomore Robert Etts near the corner of the crease. Hertz one-timed it past Hobart sophomore goaltender Nick Broadwater for the four-on-four goal at 14:28 to give Utica a 1-0 lead.
“Power play-wise we were too much in that practice mode a little bit,” said Hobart head coach Mark Taylor. “A week ago, we were looking awesome and should have played. The good thing is that we stayed after it pretty well.”
Tonight was Hobart’s first game of the season as the Statesmen started their regular season two weeks later than the rest of the league.
The Pioneers extended their lead 5:30 into the second period when freshman Chris Santiago tallied from a tight angle at the bottom of the right faceoff dot.
Hobart tried to climb back into the contest just over three minutes later as Hannah swatted in a bouncing puck from the low slot to narrow Utica’s lead to 2-1.
Utica regained its two goal lead at 11:40 when sophomore Eric Peterson wristed a shot from the middle slot through a crowd that evaded netminder Broadwater.
The Statesmen came out with a rush to begin the third period and narrowed the margin again at 7:58. While on the power play, sophomore Ryan Corcoran held the puck at the right point and spotted senior Christopher Bower breaking along the end line to the left of the net. Corcoran fed Bower who one-timed it into the empty side of the net to make the score 3-2 Utica.
“We didn’t look sharp,” said Taylor. “We were a little tight. Some of the guys had that reckless abandon that we like to play, but most were too tight.”
Hobart pulled their goaltender as time wound down but couldn’t get a good look at the net as Utica held on for the victory.