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#4 Utica Pioneers defeat Wilkes for the second straight time

The Utica Pioneers Men’s Hockey Team continues their road success as they sweep Wikes, winning 5-1 on Sunday afternoon.

Period 1: 

For the second matchup of the weekend, Utica is looking for a sweep to extend their unbeaten streak to eight games. In Sunday’s contest, both teams elected to change their goalies.  For Wilkes, it was Jack Perna who returned from injury, and for Utica, it was Bryan Landsberger. 

Utica got to work early scoring a goal just 2:34 into the game after a weird bounce found its way past Perna.  Alexander Gullichsen got the credit, his first of the season.  After some offensive pressure from Wilkes, Nick Swain for the Colonels found himself in the penalty box at 15:58 of the first period for slashing.  Utica took advantage and scored quickly as the penalty expired to make it 2-0 with 13:49 remaining on a goal by Dante Spagnuolo (it was his first of the season). 

For the first half of the period, it was all Utica, with limited chances from Wilkes that never turned into anything.  When Wilkes had zone time, the Pioneers made sure to get a stick in the lane and then utilized their speed to get out of the zone and create pressure the other way.  Throughout the first period, Utica was always on top of a Wilkes skater, and never let them get settled with the puck.  Utica got their second power play of the period as Patrick Roginski got called for tripping at 4:57.  Despite fast puck movement there was nothing to show for the Pioneer’s man advantage. 

#4 Utica Pioneers vs Wilkes Colonels Game Recap 11-18-2023

Shortly after the game returned to even strength Utica got called from holding when Kimball Johnson grabbed hold of a Wilkes player’s stick behind the net.  Being a man down did not matter, as Utica scored a short-handed goal on an Aiden Hughes breakaway, marking the first short-handed goal of his collegiate career.  Utica killed the rest of the Wilkes penalty and went to the locker room with an early 3-0 lead.  

Period 2:

In the first five minutes, there was not much offense being generated on either side.  It was very back and forth with some small scrums in the corners that resulted in a breakout for both sides, as the only thing that ticked up was the physicality.  Utica then started to gain some momentum by keeping the puck in the Wilkes zone by cycling it and then dumping it back in, and tiring out the Colonels. 

Landsberger started to get his first real moments of action when Wilkes had some extended zone time for about a minute and thirty seconds. They put five shots on goal in that span, all of which Landsberger turned away. 

The hockey in the second period was free flow.  There was no whistle for about ten minutes of playing time until Utica went offside. 

Wilkes ended the scoring drought to make it 3-1 at 6:27 remaining in the second.  When Nick Swain buried a rebound off Jimmy O’Kane’s initial shot.  Wilkes then took another penalty to give Utica their third-man advantage of the Sunday matinee when Steven Spetz was called for hooking at 3:52.  There was nothing to show from the powerplay, but Utica still led 3-1 at the end of the second period.  

Period 3:

To start the 3rd, Wilkes was called again for a hooking penalty at 17:35 – as this time it was Luke Dobles to the box.  Utica made quick work of the powerplay advantage to make it 4-1 with 17:10 remaining on Hughes’s second goal of the game. 

Then at 14:59, Preston Brighton got called for boarding after laying a hit on Wilkes player Cam Lowe.  Utica killed that – only allowing two good chances which Landsberger steered away without allowing any second opportunities. The score remained 4-1 with twelve minutes left in the third period, but at the ten-minute mark, Wilkes started to generate some pressure by keeping the puck in the Pioneers zone.  Billy Berry had a quality chance in the top of the slot but was blocked away by Griffen Barr. 

After all the offensive pressure that Wilkes had generated, they took a tripping penalty that sent Lowe to the box.  Coach Gary Heenan took a timeout, allowing his team to regroup.  After the timeout, Utica had nothing to show for the man advantage again as Wilkes killed it. 

With 3:58 left Utica piled on another goal to make it 5-1 when captain Brian Scoville got his second of the weekend.  Austin D’Orazio got called for interference with 3:39 left in the 3rd, but the Pioneer penalty-killing unit did its job again.  Just when everyone thought it was over, Utica took another penalty with fifty-six seconds left as Brighton got called for boarding. Utica killed that final penalty and the game ended with a final score of 5-1.  Sunday’s win improves the Pioneer’s record to 6-0-2 overall and 5-0-1 in the UCHC.  They are also now 4-0 on the road and moved their record to 13-1-1 all-time against Wilkes.  

I spoke to Assistant Coach Nick Therrien postgame and asked him “how it feels to be 4-0 on the road and what it is like to be so successful when traveling into other teams’ barns”  He said; “It feels great, it is not something easy to do, especially with such a young squad. Obviously, Our barn has a different atmosphere. It is hard to get motivated but we have scored the first goal in the past 4 games so that has helped with our success.”  

The Pioneers return home next Friday and Saturday to host the Utica Thanksgiving Classic. For more information about that tournament, visit https://uticapioneers.com.

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