The great Yogi Berra once said “it’s like deja vu all over again” and for the Utica Pioneers Men’s Hockey Team that perfectly sums up their weekend – in a good way. After opening their regular season with a pair of games in Michigan against the number one ranked Adrian Bulldogs, the Pioneers remained on the road last weekend in the state of Maryland where they opened their UCHC schedule with a two-game set against the Stevenson Mustangs (1-3-0 overall, 0-2-0 UCHC). Deja Vu was indeed on display the entire weekend, as Utica won both games in overtime by identical 4-3 scores.
In the first game, which was played on Friday night, the Mustangs got off to a very fast start. They poured the save shots of the game on Utica goaltender Bryan Landsberger and broke through on the eighth – as at the 5:03 mark, Stevenson’s John Musella beat Landsberger for the game’s first goal. The Mustangs struck again just twenty-nine seconds later when Alex Rivet scored to give the home team a quick 2-0 lead over the stunned visitors.
The Rivet goal served as a wake-up call for the Pioneers, however, as they would counter with offensive zone pressure of their own. Three minutes after the second Stevenson goal, the Pioneers got one of their own off the stick of Brandon Osmundson past Stevenson netminder Ryan Kenny to cut the Mustang’s lead in half. With three minutes and forty seconds remaining, Utica captain Dante Zapata scored to tie the score and close out the scoring in a wild first period that saw the Mustangs outshoot the Pioneers by a margin of 15 to 11.
The teams exchanged goals in the second period, with Stevenson taking the lead on an early goal by Graeme McCrory. The Pioneers answered late in the second period on Remy Parker’s first goal of the season. The score was even but the shots for the period were not, as Utica outshot Stevenson by a 16 to 7 margin.
A scoreless third period (in which the Pioneers outshot the Mustangs 10 to 3) led to overtime, where Jayson Dobay’s unassisted goal at the 1:13 mark sealed the win for the Pioneers. Neither team could muster a power play goal (both went 0 for 2), and Utica outshot Stevenson by a total of 38 to 25. Landsberger made twenty-two saves in picking up the victory, while Kenny made thirty-four stops in the losing effort. A full recap of this game is available here: #5 Pioneers Win At Stevenson On Dobay’s OT Goal.
The teams met again less than twenty-four hours later, but it was the same result as Friday night. Once again, the home team got the first goal of the game in the first period when Stevenson’s Austin Master beat Bryan Landsberger (who was making his second start in as many days) at the 12:48 mark. Utica answered right back less than two minutes later when Remy Parker put the puck behind Stevenson netminder Ryan Kenny (also making his second start in as many days) to score his second goal of the season as well as the series.
The Mustangs took the lead back at the 8:15 mark of the second period, but the Pioneers stormed back to take their first lead of the game by the end of the period. Their 3-2 lead was built on Brandon Osmundson’s third goal of the season and then a power play goal by Kimball Johnson (his first of the season) one miute and forty-three seconds remaining in the period. The score remained 3-2 untill with one minute and thirty-one seconds remaining in the third period, when with an extra attacker on the ice the Mustangs tied the game on a goal by Liam McCanney, setting a second overtime game between the two teams. Like they did the night before, the Pioneers won the game at about ninety seconds into the overtime period, this time on a goal by Regen Cavanagh (his third of the season).
Landsberger made twenty-seven saves in picking up the win, while Kenny made thirty-seven saves in taking the loss. Both teams recorded power play goals, with Utica going 1 for 4, and Stevenson going 1 for 5. A full recap of this game is available here: #5 Pioneers Notch Another OT Win At Stevenson – Utica University Athletics.
In the USCHO national Division III poll which was released on Monday, the Pioneers are still ranked fifth, but they are now tied for that spot with Augsburg – as both teams recieved a total of 190 votes. Ahead of them in the poll is Adrian (#1), Hobart (#2), Geneseo (#3), and St. Norbert (#4). The Pioneers have their home opener at the Adirondack Bank Center this weekend, when they take on UCHC rival the Chatham Cougars (2-1-1 overall, 2-0-0 UCHC) on Saturday at 7pm, and once again on Sunday at 3pm. For more information about Utica Pioneers hockey, visit https://uticapioneers.com.