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Utica Men Advance to ECAC Final

(Photo courtesy of Utica College)

The Utica College men’s hockey team scored with just under 5 minutes in regulation on Sunday afternoon at the Aud to advance to the ECAC championship game with a 1-0 win over rival Manhattanville.

The win, combined with an Elmira win on Saturday night, earned Utica the right to host the championship game this weekend.  The exact date and time will be announced on Monday.

“This was a great win for our program and to have a senior score the game-winner in the third period to help us advance to the finals is special,” said 13th year Head Coach Gary Heenan. “Both teams played hard all afternoon and this is the type of game we have come to expect against Manhattanville. We’re excited to be advancing to the conference tournament finals and we are looking forward to getting back to work as we prepare for Elmira.”

Senior forward Jordan Hobaica (Clinton, NY/Northwood School) netted the game-winner with 7:05 to go in the third period.

Meanwhile, senior goalie Nick Therrien (Rochester, NH/NY Apple Core (EJHL)) registered his first shutout of the season at an opportune time as he stopped 18 shots to earn his 46th career victory. He needs one more win to tie the school-record of 47 career victories set by 2008 graduate Adam Dekker. Therrien and the Pioneer defense withstood five Manhatannville power-plays, including two in the opening minutes of the third period, to preserve the shut out.

Hobaica’s game-winner was his fifth goal of the season and it was assisted by junior Justin Hogan (Val Therese, Ontario/Brooks Bandits (AJHL)). Hobaica broke out after a pass from Hogan as he entered the offensive zone and beat one Manhattanville defender, made a move to his right and slid the puck past Manhatanville senior goalie Alex Scola to light the lamp for the first and only time all afternoon. It was Hobaica’s first career game-winning goal.

Scola made 26 saves in net for Manhattanville as the Pioneers outshot the Valiants 27-18 on the afternoon. Both teams combined to go 0-for-8 on the power-play.

Utica outshot Manhttanville 11-5 in the third and final period.  "This was a great win for our program and to have a senior score the game-winner in the third period to help us advance to the finals is special! -Utica Head Coach Gary Heenan."

Elmira defeated third-seeded Hobart 5-3 on Saturday night to advance to next weekend’s championship game. The Pioneers went 2-1 in three games against Elmira during the regular season. All three regular season games between Utica and Elmira were decided by one game.

The Pioneers, winners of six of their last seven games, improved to 16-6-4 overall on the year and they are advancing to the ECAC West Championship game for just the third time in program-history (2005, 2006, 2014). Fourth-seeded Manhattanville closed out its season with a 13-12-2 overall ledger. The Pioneers won the season-series over the Valiants, 3-1.

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