Brilliant Brissette: Sophomore forward leads UC to strong weekend

Jim McLaughlin
Sports Editor

The Utica College men’s hockey team came away with one win and a tie this past weekend as they faced off against Nazareth College.
The Pioneers were looking to improve their record and continue the momentum they had following their season opener against Castleton University.

Mens hockeyy
Joel Wetmore looks for the puck in a game last season. The junior scored a goal on Friday in UC’s 4-1 win over Nazareth. Photo by Jeff Pexton.

UC sophomore Alex Brissette wasted no time to take the lead for the Pioneers as he scored the first goal of the game off the pass from freshmen Hayden Dawes. The momentum from Brissette’s goal seemed to spark the entire team as senior Nick Miglio scored his first goal of the season two minutes later to give the Pioneers a 2-0 lead over Nazareth.
UC started the second period of the game with a 2-0 advantage and were not looking to stop there. Senior assistant captain Joel Wetmore netted his first goal of the season off the pass of sophomore Anthony McVeigh to extend the UC lead to three goals. Nazareth was able to grab a goal of their own to end the second period, but the Pioneers were still leading 3-1.
The goal Nazareth had at the end of the second period was their only goal of the night. Dawes was able to extend the Pioneers’ lead even more with a goal of his own halfway through the third period. Freshmen goalie Michael Fredrick was able to secure the victory for the Pioneers as he saved 31 shots in the game. UC won 4-1.
“I thought we played extremely well in the first game,” head coach Gary Heenan said. “We played fast, just the way we like to.”
With only having a day to recover from the first game, the Pioneers seemed to have their hands full. The first period of the second game finished with a scoreless 0-0 tie against Nazareth. But sophomore Mikhail Bushinski was able to open up the scoring for the Pioneers, registering his first goal of the season and taking the lead 1-0. The lone goal from Bushinski gave the Pioneers the lead heading into the third period.
However, fatigue from the night before seemed to make an impact in the third period for UC. Nazareth’s offense found a way to get a goal of their own off the stick of J.R. Wojciechowski to tie the game up 1-1 with 16 minutes left in regulation. However, the Pioneers were not going to go down without a fight. Freshman Alex Roberts regained the lead for the Pioneers off the assist from junior Trent Samuels-Thomas.
The Pioneers led 2-1 with 13 minutes to finish out the game, but David Powlowski from Nazareth was able to tie the game up with six minutes left in the game. The game would end with a 2-2 tie in regulation to take the game into overtime.
In the overtime period, neither team was able to find the back of the net. Each team had only one shot on goal in the five-minute regulation to end the game in a 2-2 tie.
Although the Pioneers were able to come away from the weekend without a loss, Heenan felt they didn’t play their best in the second game.
“It was a much more physical battle than the day before,” Heenan said. “There was a scrappier flow, and players just need to get back to being able to play two games in a row.”
One of the standout players for the Pioneers so far this season is Brissette. In only three games, Brissette leads UC with four points, with three goals and one assist.
“He is playing great so far this season,” Heenan said. “He plays on both sides of the ice and is able to have an offensive dynamic as well as being defensively responsible.”
As the Pioneers prepare for the two-night homestand against conference opponents Elmira College and Hobart College, the Pioneers look to improve every day this week.
“We look to continue to get better every day this week,” Heenan said. “We have our work cut out for us as we have two strong teams coming up that are in our league. It helps to have these tough games at home since we always play better there.”