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#13 Utica Pioneers trounce Suffolk to open the season

Carly Stefanini’s hat trick leads the #13 Pioneers over Suffolk in the opening round of the Utica University Kickoff Tournament.

The thirteenth-ranked Utica Pioneers Women’s Hockey Team opened their 2023-24 season by hosting the inaugural Utica University Kickoff Tournament. The tournament is being held at the Utica University Nexus Center on Friday, October 27th, and Saturday the 28th.

The tournament opened with the #6 Adrian Bulldogs defeating the #12 Elmira Soaring Eagles in a 3-2 overtime thriller. Once the ice was cleaned and the scoreboard was reset, it was time for the hosts to open their end of the four-team tournament against the Suffolk Rams.

The Pioneers used the power play to build a 2-0 lead over the visitors in the first period. Hailey Modlin opened the scoring at the 5:13 mark of the opening frame with a power play goal. Carly Stefanini followed five and a half minutes later with a power play tally of her own and what turned out to be her first of three goals on the night.

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Utica kept the pressure up in the second period, pouring fourteen shots on Suffolk goaltender Lily O’Neil. With the barrage, the Pioneers netted another goal, this one by Maggie Rylott. Stefanini assisted on this goal as did team captain Erica Sloan – who would collect two more assists besides this one for three on the night.

At the other end of the ice, Pioneers goaltender Angela Hawthorne stopped all sixteen shots she faced through the first two periods. Utica led 3-0 after forty minutes of play.

The Rams finally broke through early in the third period on a goal by Sammy Lassman. Utica regained its three-goal advantage less than four minutes later on a breakaway shorthanded goal by Carolyn Whitney. They then padded their lead five and a half minutes later when Stefanini struck again on the power play to make the score 5-1.

Suffolk would not go away quietly as they got a goal of their own by Ashley Bialas a minute after the Stefanini goal. That would be all Hawthorne would yield, however, and the hats were soon flying at the Nexus Center as Stefanini scored her third goal of the game on the power play to seal her team’s 6-2 victory. Utica was four for six on the power play in the game and outshot Suffolk thirty-five to twenty-five.

The Pioneers play in the Kickoff Tournament championship game on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. against Adrian. Suffolk will face Elmira in the consolation game following the Utica vs. Adrian matchup. Both games will be played at the Utica University Nexus Center.

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