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

Men’s hockey advances to UCHC semifinals

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

On Wednesday Feb. 21, the No. 2 men’s hockey team defeated Nazareth University 3-0 in the UCHC quarterfinals. After a competitive game through the first two periods, Pioneers defeated the Golden Flyers in the last 20 minutes of play, scoring three goals. 

Scoring the team’s goals were Michael Herrera, Brian Scoville and Shane Murphy, while Vladislav Pshenichnikov, Dante Spagnuolo, Drake Morse, Preston Brighton, Jakob Breault and goalkeeper Ethan Roberts all added an assist.

Roberts, whose primary responsibility is to prevent the puck from getting between the pipes rather than assisting the offense, recorded his first assist. In addition, he made 22 saves without allowing a single goal to earn his twelfth win in goal. 

“I was just so dialed in on the puck I zone out all the noise in the arena,” Roberts said. “I had no clue I even got an assist until after the game.” 

The first period was fiercely contested. After 20 minutes of heated play, Utica outshot Nazareth 12–9, leaving neither team able to produce any sort of attack. 

In the second period, Utica was pressing hard and had multiple close scoring opportunities, but Nazareth’s defense stood firm. During a penalty kill, Pioneers held off Nazareth’s offensive while Roberts made three outstanding saves. 

The Pioneers showed resilience going into the third period. 

A poor pass would cost Nazareth as the third period approached, and their powerful defense was no match for the pioneers. 

Upon intercepting the pass from Nazareth, Morse found himself in direct contact with the net. Before he could pull the trigger and fire the shot he was tripped while the play was still in progress and a delayed penalty was due. left unguarded, Herrera found himself free to shoot the puck with force from close range, giving the team their first goal. 

Building the momentum, the pioneers were hungry for more. Two minutes later, Scoville would double the lead with a long-range shot from the wing. 

“I thought the team did a great job on the forecheck and forcing Naz to turn over the puck. Without their hard work and net front presence that goal wouldn’t be possible,” Scoville said. “It shows a lot out of this group and we’re at our best when we force turnovers and possess the puck in the offensive zone.”


With just two minutes remaining, UCHC Player of the Week Murphy scored an empty netter with the help of Brighton and Roberts. Eliminating Nazareth from the playoffs for the sixth time in six years. 

“We will now dedicate all of our focus to the next game against Alvernia in the UCHC semifinals,” Murphy said. “Our preparation will stay the same as we have done these past few weekends and focus on one shift at a time.”

Utica will continue their fight as they take on the Alvernia Golden Wolves on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. at the Adirondack Bank Center in the UCHC Semifinals. 

Despite Alvernia’s physicality and heaviness on the puck, the Pioneers are prepared to put up a fight. 

As the youngest team in the country minus first-year teams, head coach Gary Heenan has stressed patience and process. 

Though there is a lot to be excited about, much remains to be improved. After losing to the same opponent in the NCAA first round the previous two years, the squad has underperformed in the last two years. Expectations may be lower now, but the team is looking forward to exceeding those expectations. Expect some noise to be made with the team this season. 

“We cannot take any team lightly…” Kimball Johnson said. “Especially around this time of year.”

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