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Utica Pioneers Post OT Victory Over Season Rival Hobart

Gary Heenan
(Photo by Bill Keeler)

The nationally-ranked No. 7/7 Utica College men’s hockey team wrapped up its four game road trip with a key 3-2 overtime victory over host and nationally-ranked No. 14/13 Hobart College in ECAC Men’s West Conference action Saturday night at the Geneva Recreation Complex. UC’s Adam Graff (Bear, DE/Syracuse Stars (EJHL)) registered his first collegiate hat-trick and capped the Pioneers comeback by pushing home the game-winner with just 29 seconds left in the overtime period to help the Utica even the season series at 1-1-1 with the Statesmen. Graff finished now has five goals and two assists in his last five games played.
UC trailed 2-0 midway through the second period, but Graff and the Pioneers responded with three unanswered tallies to earn the conference victory.

Utica is now 6-1-1 overall and 5-1-1 in ECAC West action. The season series with the Statesmen is now complete and it could not have been more evenly matched. The Pioneers dropped the first game of the series at the Aud, 3-2, when Hobart scored as time expired back on November 9th. Last night in Geneva, NY, Hobart tied the game up late in the third period and the contest resulted in a 3-3 tie. Hobart is now 2-2-4 overall and UC was able to hand the Statesmen their first conference loss of the season as they moved to 2-1-3 in the ECAC West.

“What a great way to close out a tough conference road trip,” said 13th year Head Coach Gary Heenan. “We showed a lot of resiliency tonight and that is a quality that all good teams need to have. Hobart has a very good hockey program and those are the types of wins we are going to need to reach our goals this season. We’re going to enjoy this one for the moment and get right back to work as we prepare to defend our home ice next Friday night.”

UC fell into an early 2-0 hole on Saturday night as Bo Webster and Terrence O’Neill each tallied power-play goals in the first 24:58 of the contest to give the home team the early advantage. UC freshman goaltender Marcus Zelzer (Green Bay, WI/Kenai River (NAHL)) got the nod between the pipes for the Pioneers and after shaking off the two power play goals, he did not disappoint, as he turned away 36 shots in his second collegiate victory.

UC began the unlikely comeback with 23 seconds left on the second period clock when senior Adam Graff (Bear, DE/Syracuse Stars (EJHL)) knocked home his fourth goal of the season to cut the deficit in half, 2-1, headed into the second intermission.

Graff kept his hot streak alive midway through the second period when he knotted the score at 2-2 with 9:44 left in regulation. Freshman Jide Idowu (Copper City, FL/Carleton Place (CCHL)) and senior captain Trever Hertz (Jaffray, British Columbia/Quesnel Millionaires (BCHL)) each assisted Graff’s second of three goals. Graff and Hertz are tied for the team lead with nine points apiece this year. Graff has six goals and three assists, while Hertz has three goals and six assists.

Both teams were held scoreless in the final nine minutes and the contest was sent to overtime for the second time in as many nights. After four minutes of scoreless back and forth action in overtime, the Statesmen were charged with a slashing penalty at the 4:09 marker to give the Pioneers a one man advantage for the remainder of the overtime period. Just 22 seconds later is when Graff knocked home a loose puck during a scramble in front of the net to give the Pioneers the victory.

Hobart goalie Lino Chimienti stopped 30 shots as his record moved to 2-2-3 overall on the season.

The Pioneers are now 9-2-1 against Hobart dating back to the beginning of the 2010-2011 season and they have not lost at ‘The Cooler’ since Feb. 19, 2010.

UC will return home to the friendly confines of the Utica Memorial Auditorium next Friday night when they host Morrisville State, who is coached by Utica College men’s hockey alum Kevin Krogel. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.

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