Soaring to the Top

Four of the five teams started league play this past weekend.  With a pair of big road wins over Uitca and Manhattanville, Elmira jumped right to the top of the standings.
The Soaring Eagles weekend started out at Utica, and the Pioneers got their 3,800 fans into the game early when Steve Zappia scored just 6:39 into the contest.  Despite being outshot 22-13, Utica held the 1-0 lead into the third period.
Elmira kept working away, and D’arcy Oakes scored at 6:10 of the third period to tie the game.  Joe Gagne added another goal with less than five minutes remaining to give Elmira the lead, and then Jesper Strale chipped in an empty-netter to seal the 3-1 victory.
“We did not have a ton of great scoring chances, and it caught up to us in the third period,” said Utica coach Gary Heenan.  “We had solid goaltending, but we got a few unlucky bounces, and we didn’t play as well on the power play as we would have liked.  Elmira is a very good team, and they deserve a lot of credit for sticking with it through 60 full minutes.”
Utica’s only goal came on a power play, one of seven extra-man opportunities on the night.
Elmira continued its weekend road trip to Manhattanville Saturday night, and again fell behind in the first period 2-1. 
The second period was the Kevin Willer show for the Soaring Eagles.  Willer scored three goals and assisted on another as Elmira surged to a 5-3 lead by the end of the second period.  Willer wasn’t done though, and added a short-handed goal 3:59 into the third period to seal the 6-3 victory.
“[Willer] has been our most consistent player this year,” said Elmira coach Aaron Saul.  “He is an exceptional player at both ends of the rink.  He is our Mighty Mite.  He is only 5 feet 6 inches, but he does it all.”
In other action around the league, Hobart shutout Manhattanville Friday night 4-0.  Three different freshmen, Peter Ryan, Bronson Kovacs, and Ian Coleman, scored their first goals as Statesmen during the game.   It was a very rough game, including 24 penalties evenly distributed between the two teams for 59 total minutes.
Outside the conference, the ECAC West had a perfect weekend.  Hobart finished off its weekend trip dropping Salve Regina 5-1 on Saturday.
Utica got back on the winning side of the ledger with a 7-1 drubbing of Saint Michel’s on Saturday.  It was the first time these two teams had ever met.
Lastly, Neumann fended off a tenacious Curry team 5-4 on Sunday.  Cory Park scored a pair of goals while Dave Gervais added a goal and two assists.