The Premier team were not as fortunate as their big brother NCDC team. The Premiers lost both of their opening weekend games to Rockets Hockey Club over the weekend.
Saturday’s season opener was a back and forth affair that ended in a shootout. All three periods were played evenly and neither team was able to find the back of the net in the first period. The teams both scored a pair of goals in a four minute span in the second period tying the game at two.
The Rockets struck first in the scoring at 3:49 of the second to take a 1-0 lead. Just over 80 seconds later Brendan Vettraino (Clay Township, MI) scored the first of the year for Utica with an assist going to returning player JD Speer (Hamilton, NY). Spencer Hecklinger (Denver, CO) scored for Utica only 50 seconds after the Rockets took a 2-1 lead. Luke Holston (Charleston, SC) assisted on the tying goal.
The teams remained deadlocked at two following the third period and the extra 3-on-3 overtime stanza. The Rockets shot first in the shootout and beat goaltender Logan Plamer (Cazenovia, NY) to take a 1-0 lead. Speer, Andrew Martino (Utica, NY), and Chris Curtis (Charleston, SC) were the three shooters for Utica. None were able to capitalize and the game ended 3-2 in favor of the Rockets. Palmer finished with 36 saves.
Despite being out-shot 17-9 in the opening period of Sunday’s game the Comets escaped the period tied 1-1. Dyllan Uehlin (Zionsville, IN) scored at 14:47 to give Utica a very brief 1-0 lead. It took the Rockets all of 40 seconds to respond and tie the game back at one. The Rockets took a 2-1 lead at the 8:53 mark of the second, but at 14:45 Zach Crawley (Pittsburgh, PA) found the back of the net tying for Utica. The goal set up an all too familiar situation with the teams heading into the third period once again tied at two goals apiece.
However, it wouldn’t take an extra hokey to decide the outcome on this one. Rockets scored two third period goals to secure the 4-2 win. Utica was out-shot 49-30 in the contest. Andrew Rodriguez (Hamilton, NY) finished with 45 saves for the home team.
The Premier team will travel to Philadelphia with the NCDC squad this weekend. They will face the Philadelphia Hockey Club on Friday at 7:30pm and Saturday at 5:00pm.