UTICA, NY – The No. 12 Utica University women’s hockey team is set to begin the UCHC Tournament this week. The team will start by hosting Lebanon Valley College on Wednesday, February 22 at 3 p.m. at the Nexus Center. If the team wins they will qualify for the UCHC Semifinals which will take place on Saturday, February 25 at the Nexus Center.
Follow Along: Those unable to attend can tune in for live video and/or stats via https://bit.ly/2wtxUV5.
Last Time Out: The team suffered its first loss since October 28, 2022 after falling to the Nazareth College Golden Flyers 2-1 in overtime on Saturday. Utica’s lone goal of the game came on a third period power play by Erica Sloan (Potsdam, NY/St. Lawrence Steel), who was assisted by Georgiana Santullo (Woburn, MA/Boston Shamrocks/Woburn High School). In goal, Angela Hawthorne (Santa Clara, CA/Meijer) made 34 saves in the losing effort. With the win, Nazareth secured the regular season UCHC title while the Pioneers end their regular season conference slate in second. Nazareth jumped on the board first with a first period goal at 14:01 as part of a 15-shot frame. Utica was limited to four looks throughout the opening period, including one on a power play, as the team trailed 1-0 after one full. The Pioneers found some rhythm on offense in the second with 10 shots in the half to Nazareth’s five. However, both sides came up empty in the second with the score still 1-0 in favor of the Golden Flyers going into the third. The Pioneers’ power play broke through in the third. On the third look on the advantage, Sloan ripped one past Nazareth goalie McKinley Hoff at 4:33 to tie the game. Throughout the period, Hawthorne made 13 stops to ensure the game moved into overtime for a second day in a row. In overtime however, Nazareth capitalized on a power play of its own to win the game and clinch the regular season championship.
Tournament History: The team has qualified for the UCHC Tournament in all six seasons since the conception of the conference in 2017-2018 and reached the semifinals twice. Utica is 2-5 in tournament games and is coming off a semifinals appearance last season where the team fell to Manhattanville 3-2 in overtime.
In the Polls: The team held onto the No. 12 spot in the latest US College Hockey Women’s Top 15. The poll was released on Monday by the national college hockey website. Utica received 72 points this week to remain at No. 12. The Pioneers wrapped up the regular season on the road at Nazareth College this past weekend. On Feb. 17, No. 12 Utica came up short against No. 13 Nazareth in a shootout. The next day, the Pioneers lost to the Golden Flyers 2-1 on the road in overtime to finish with an overall record of 20-2-3 and 17-1-2 in UCHC play.
Team Dominance: The Pioneers have been an offensive powerhouse and are first in the UCHC in scoring averaging 4.84 goals per game and have scored 121 goals per game which is 17 more than second in the conference. The team also ranks first in assists per game with 7.40 and has totaled 185 assists this season with only one other team getting over 100. Utica ranks top two in shots per game (44.76) and power play percentage (.263). The team’s defense has been lights out and allows just .92 goals per game which tops the conference and equates to just 23 goals allowed this season in 25 games. The team also ranks top-two in penalty killing percentage (.914) and faceoff winning percentage (.587).
Dynamic Duo: The duo of Erica Sloan (Potsdam, NY/St. Lawrence Steel) and Georgiana Santullo (Woburn, MA/Boston Shamrocks/Woburn High School) has been terrific this season and is one of the top duos in the conference. Santullo leads the conference in points with 39 and is first in assists with 24 and fourth in goals with 15. Sloan is second in the UCHC with 38 points and is second in goals with 22 and is tied for fifth with 16 assists. Santullo has a five game point streak and has recorded at least one point in 19 of the team’s 25 games. Sloan is in the midst of an eight point streak and has been incredible recording at least one point in 22 of the team’s 25 games this season.
Plenty of Points: Carly Stefanini (Framingham, MA/Brooks School) has been having a fantastic season and ranks second in the UCHC with 23 assists which is only one behind teammate Erica Sloan (Potsdam, NY/St. Lawrence Steel). The junior is in the midst of a terrific stretch where she has totaled 10 points over her last five games. Her best outing was on February 4 against Lebanon Valley where she recorded one goal and an incredible four assists which tied her career-high which she set on February 12, 2022 against Wilkes.
Scouting LVC: The Flying Dutchmen finished the season 12-12-1 with a 9-10-1 UCHC record to earn the seventh seed in the UCHC Tournament. The team beat Wilkes University 3-2 in its last outing on Saturday, February 18. The team is led by Katrina Strauts who has 23 points this season which ranks eleventh in the conference. Strauts has 12 goals and 11 assists this season and has nearly double the points of anyone else on the squad. Ioanna Christou and Alexa Spiers are two more scoring threats as both have six goals this season. Erin Yorke is the team’s top facilitator with 10 assists this season. The team splits two goaltenders in net as Olivia Magneson and Shelby Guinard both have seen plenty of time. Magneson sports a 7-3 record this season with 294 saves, a .930 save percentage and four shutouts. Guinard is 5-9 this season with 483 saves, a .925 save percentage and two shutouts.
Head-to-Head: Utica is 2-0 this season against Lebanon Valley as the team beat them at home on Friday, February 3, 4-2. The Pioneers followed this up with a convincing 7-1 on Saturday, February 4 as Erica Sloan (Potsdam, NY/St. Lawrence Steel) netted a hat trick and Carly Stefanini (Framingham, MA/Brooks School) had four assists while Georgiana Santullo (Woburn, MA/Boston Shamrocks/Woburn High School) recorded three assists. The team’s defense was superb in the series outscoring the Flying Dutchmen 11-3 and allowing just 26 shots over the two games.
The Series: Utica has dominated the series and is 11-0 all-time against Lebanon Valley scoring 61 goals over the series. The Pioneers average 5.55 goals per game and win in large fashion as the team’s smallest victory was two goals which happened this season on February 3. Utica has outscored the Flying Dutchmen 61-6 including sporting six shutouts, four games allowing just one goal, and one game allowing two goals.
Up Next: With a win, the Pioneers will host the second lowest remaining seed in the UCHC Semifinals on Saturday. Game time is TBD.
#32 Angela Hawthorne G 5′ 2″ Junior Business Management
#87 Georgiana Santullo F 5′ 5″ Graduate Student Psychology-Child Life
#6 Erica Sloan F 5′ 5″ Senior Public Relations and Marketing
#81 Carly Stefanini F 5′ 8″ Junior Criminal Justice Players Mentioned
#32 Angela Hawthorne 5′ 2″ Junior Business Management G
#87 Georgiana Santullo 5′ 5″ Graduate Student Psychology-Child Life F
#6 Erica Sloan 5′ 5″ Senior Public Relations and Marketing F
#81 Carly Stefanini 5′ 8″ Junior Criminal Justice F