The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

No. 2 men’s hockey won 14 straight games as they head into the postseason

Photo courtesy of YSM Media.
Photo courtesy of YSM Media.

Last weekend, the Pioneers secured their sixth straight UCHC regular season title as they defeated Arcadia 5-3 to end their season. They will have home ice throughout the conference playoffs as they aim to capture yet another conference championship.

On Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m Utica begins postseason play when they host eighth-seeded Nazareth University in the UCHC Quarterfinals.

The league announced on Monday that Shane Murphy has been selected the UCHC Men’s Player of the Week.  

Shane Murphy was responsible for more than 35% of Utica’s goals as the team defeated visiting Arcadia. With three goals for his second hat-trick of the year, Murphy has been playing effectively. John Gutt, Matt Wood and Brian Scoville had multiple-point performances. Aydin Parekh, Andrew Della Rovere and Gabriel Lundberg all collected a point as well. 

Bryan Landsberger made his second consecutive start in goal for Utica, with 20 saves and recording his ninth win. In the third period of the first game, sophomore Avery Sturtz appeared between the pipes and stopped every one of the six shots he saw. 

For the first 14 minutes of the first period on Saturday, there was no scoring until Arcadia took advantage of a power play to give the Knights a 1-0 lead. With 3:53 remaining in the half, Della Rovere and Scoville aided Lundberg in scoring his second goal of the 2023–24 season, bringing the score to one each. 

Arcadia and Utica combined for five goals in the second period. Lately, Matt Wood, John Gutt, and Shane Murphy have become an outstanding trio. In the second half, the three scored three goals and totaled four points. At 1:51 into the second period, Murphy gave Utica the lead in points. Murphy made connections with Gutt and Wood to give Utica a 2-1 lead. After nine minutes, Arcadia scored to tie the game at 2-2. 

According to head coach Gary Heenan, the trio is on fire and is going to be essential to leading the team in bringing home the title.

“I think the more our line plays together the more comfortable we get and the better we are,” Wood said. “They’re great players, and I’m lucky to be on the same line as them.” 

At 13:08 in the second, Gutt made a connection with Murphy to put Utica ahead 3-2. Three minutes later Arcadia tied the score at three goals each. There was still more scoring to come, with less than two minutes remaining, Gutt, who is presently on an eight-game point run, would score and add another point. Utica would have a 4-3 lead going into the third frame.

The third period saw very little action. Murphy’s empty-net goal with 37 seconds remaining gave him his second hat-trick of this season, thus eliminating Arcadia. Utica went on to win 5-3 in their final regular-season game. 

Coach Heenan has been really vocal about our small details and making sure we are buttoned up defensively for Wednesday,” Parekh said. They play hard, but if we play like we have all year, we have a really good chance to win.” 

The Pioneers are still ranked second in the poll with 271 points this week, two more than they had last week. Utica completed another undefeated conference schedule with a 9-1 victory on Friday and a 5-2 triumph on Saturday, completing their weekend series at home against Arcadia. 

“It’s essential we have a stingy defensive minded Naz team coming in,” Heenan said. “It’s going to be a close game but we’re still preaching getting better each and every week.”

Utica will host the first round of the UCHC Quarterfinals on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. against Nazareth University. 

“We can’t look ahead,” Sturtz said. “We just have to take it one game at a time.”

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