By Scott Kinville/315 Hockey.
The fourth-ranked Utica Pioneers (7-2-0 overall, 6-0-0 UCHC) opened up their annual Thanksgiving Showcase on Friday night at the Adirondack Bank Center against the Plymouth St. Panthers (4-3-1 overall, 4-0-0 MASCAC). Both teams entered the game on winning streaks, as the Pioneers had won six straight and the Panthers were victorious in their last three contests.
A Statistical Preview of the Utica Pioneers Thanksgiving Showcase
The scoring began almost immediately after the opening faceoff as the Panthers scored just fifty-five seconds into the game on a goal by Anton Jellvik. The Pioneers answered right back twenty-four seconds later when Khristian Acosta scored the first of his two goals of the game to tie the game at one. It was also the second straight game in which Acosta lit the lamp for the Pioneers.
The offensive fireworks of the first minute and a half would cool off, as there would be no more goal-scoring for the rest of the period. The teams went into the first intermission tied at one with each having ten shots on goal.
The Pioneers opened the second period with a gas pedal down, mostly on the strength of a strong opening shift by Remy Parker who a multiple chances to add to his team-leading goal total. Panthers goaltender Brendahn Brawley was able to deny Parker, but couldn’t continue to hold Utica off as at the 5:52 mark Mic Curran scored his first of two goals on the evening when he put a loose puck in the Plymouth crease in the back of the net. Then, with five and a half minutes remaining in the period, Acosta struck again when he wrapped the puck around Brawley to make the score 3-1.
Utica extended their lead to three goals with three minutes remaining in the period when John Moncovich blasted a one-timer past Brawley off a feed from Brian Scoville. It appeared the Pioneers would enter the third period with a comfortable lead, but with twenty-eight seconds remaining, Buster Larsson took a tripping penalty giving the visitors a much-needed power play. The Panthers wouldn’t wait until the third period to take advantage of it as with just twelve seconds left Ethan Stuckless tipped a Niks Krollis point shot past Pioneers goaltender Bryan Landsberger to make the score 4-2 and give Plymouth State life heading into the final frame.
The Panthers carried the momentum of the Stuckless goal into the third period and got another one. shortly after the opening faceoff. At just 1:37 in, Landsberger was not able to cover a loose puck in his crease, and Matt Tartaglio scored to get his team within one goal. Plymouth St. would continue to apply pressure, totaling eighteen shots in the third, but it was Utica who would get the final goal of the game when Mic Curran scored his second of the game with three minutes and thirty-three seconds left to secure a 5-3 victory for the Pioneers.
Notes: Utica outshot Plymouth 39-35…Utica was 0/3 on the power play, and Plymouth was 1/2…Blake Holmes led all Utica scorers with 3 points (all assists), and Carson Lanceleve led all Plymouth scorers with 2 points (both assists)…Dante Zapata led both teams in faceoff wins with 18…Utica plays again on Saturday night against the Trine Thunder at the Adirondack Bank Center, and Plymouth plays Trine on Sunday at the Nexus Center.
Three Observations From The Game
The Pioneer’s Defense Has Really Stepped Up
Losing Justin Allen to injury could have been devastating to Utica’s season until he gets back, but it appears that will not be the case. In his absence, the rest of the Pioneer’s defense corps has really stepped up to replace his offensive contributions. In this game, the defensemen accounted for six of the ten assists the team recorded on the night, led by three from Blake Holmes. Since Allen went down, Connor Fedorek has recorded seven assists and has a total of ten on the season. Allen will be back at some point, and with the rest of the defense corps performing the way they have, when #14 does return an already potent Pioneers offense will become even more dangerous.
Give Credit Where It’s Due
The Plymouth St. Panthers entered Friday night’s game as a relative unknown in Central New York hockey circles, as they play in the MASCAC conference and haven’t had a presence in the USCHO poll. In this game, however, they showed why they are undefeated in their conference and played a very resilient game – especially after going down 4-1 late in the second period. They came up short in the end, but the Panthers played a gutsy game against the fourth-ranked team in the country and deserve a lot of credit for the game they played.
It’s Time For Trine
The Pioneers close out their portion of the Delta by Marriott Utica Thanksgiving Showcase on Saturday night at the Adirondack Bank Center against the Trine Thunder, who have made the trip to Utica all the way from the Hoosier State. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 pm EST, for more information about Utica Pioneers hockey, visit https://uticapioneers.com.