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Women’s Hockey Welcomes SUNY Canton for Final Exhibition Tune-Up


Photo credit: Maxwell LeBuis – YSM Media 

Women’s Ice Hockey 10/19/2023 12:38:00 PM

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Women’s Hockey Welcomes SUNY Canton for Final Exhibition Tune-Up

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UTICA, NY – The Utica University women’s ice hockey team will see the ice for the second of two preseason matchups ahead of its 23rd season of ice hockey on Friday, October 20th. The Pioneers will match up with SUNY Canton at 7 pm at the Utica University Nexus Center. 

Follow Along: Live video and stats are available at

Recapping Last Year: The Pioneers had the winningest season in the history of the program last year, with an overall record of 22-3-3. The squad finished second in the UCHC regular season standings, and as the runner-up in the UCHC championship tournament. In the conference final, they forced defending champion Nazareth into a double overtime thriller before falling by a 2-1 score. A total of seven players were named to the UCHC All-Conference teams, and the Pioneers took home three of the conference’s five major individual awards with Erica Sloan (Potsdam, NY/St. Lawrence Steel) named Player of the Year, Angela Hawthorne (Santa Clara, CA/Meijer) selected as Goaltender of the Year, and Dave Clausen picked as Coach of the Year. Georgiana Santullo (Woburn, MA/Boston Shamrocks/Woburn High School), Sloan, Madison Novotny (Wesley Chapel, FL/Northwood School), and Hawthorne were selected as first team honorees. Sloan was a finalist for the AHCA Laura Hurd award, and was later chosen as an All-American alongside Hawthorne. 

The Series: Utica is 8-1 in nine regular season games against the Roos, but lost the most recent regular season outing in 2020. The Pioneers won last year’s exhibition meeting 2-1 behind goals from Abby Lillis (West Seneca, NY/Buffalo Bisons) and Georgiana Santullo (Woburn, MA/Boston Shamrocks/Woburn High School)

Last Time Out: The Pioneers fell 6-1 to Norwich in their exhibition opener. The lone Utica goal came in the second period off the stick of Maggie Rylott (Cobourg, Ontario/West Northumberland)

Seniority Rules: Utica will have one of the nation’s most experienced teams in the 2023-24 season, with twelve seniors and another eight graduate students. Hailey Modlin (Phoenix, AZ/Boston Shamrocks)Erica Sloan (Potsdam, NY/St. Lawrence Steel), and Alexa Carlon (Lancaster, NY/Niagara Jr. Purple Eagles) will be this year’s captains.

Familiar Faces On Staff: Dave Clausen returns for a 23rd year as head coach, and holds a career record of 325-210-35. The only head coach the program has ever had has won the UCHC Coach of the Year award in two of the last three seasons, and his squad is coming off consecutive seasons with 20 or more victories. He has two assistant coaches with significant collegiate head coaching experience. The program’s original captain, Melissa Lomanto, returns to the Pioneers as a full-time assistant coach. She finished her Utica playing career with 85 points and was an assistant coach for the Pioneers for three years after graduation before serving as the head coach at Adrian College, SUNY Canton, and most recently SUNY Morrisville. Brendon Knight also returns to the staff as an assistant. He formerly served as head coach at Hamilton, and more recently wrapped up a stint as the associate head coach at Syracuse. This past season, he also worked with Team USA at the World University games. Alumna Amanda Lupo is also back to work with the goaltenders, and hockey operations will be overseen by Hannah Beckman

Lighting The Lamp: Last season, the Pioneers were fourth nationally at 4.79 goals per game, and were ninth nationally on the power play at 26.7 percent. With the exception of Georgiana Santullo (Woburn, MA/Boston Shamrocks/Woburn High School), the Pioneers otherwise return every single skater that recorded a point last year. Sloan led the way with 45 points on 24 goals and 21 assists. Her 61 career goals are just thirteen shy of the program’s career record held by Deana Wiegand and Megan Myers. Santullo’s 42 points were second on the squad. Carly Stefanini (Framingham, MA/Brooks School) has had 78 points in the last two seasons, and the 5-8 power forward sits at 88 career points entering this season. Carolyn Whitney (Raleigh, NC/Milbrook School) had 26 total points a season ago, and Hailey Modlin (Phoenix, AZ/Boston Shamrocks) rounds out last year’s top five scorers for the team with 23 total points. Maggie Rylott (Cobourg, Ontario/West Northumberland) finished the campaign with 22, and Cortney Staniszewski (Buffalo, NY/Niagara Jr. Purple Eagles) logged 20 points, including four power play goals to tie with Stefanini for the team lead. Graduate student Abby Lillis (West Seneca, NY/Buffalo Bisons) led the team with two short-handed goals last year. Transfers Rachael DeLong (Ballston Spa, NY/Sacred Heart (NCAA DI)) and Jordan Kowalski (Chicopee, MA/Plattsburgh State (NCAA DIII)) also have joined the team for this season. DeLong is from Division I Sacred Heart, where she has played over 100 games. Kowalski is from longtime national powerhouse Plattsburgh State, where she had 20 total appearances. Freshmen Sarah Muller (Grover, MO/Culver Academies)Cameran Evans (Emsworth, PA/Pittsburgh Penguins Elite)Sydney Mintz (Kelowna, BC/Okanagan Hockey Academy), and Angelina Garganese (Winter Springs, Fl/Florida Alliance) are also looking to contribute.

On Defense: The Pioneers ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense a season ago, and should be positioned well to succeed with the same core personnel returning. All-Conference performers Madison Novotny (Wesley Chapel, FL/Northwood School)Holly Silva (Boston, MA/Worcester Academy), and Tess Barrett (Tewksbury, MA/St. Mark’s) are all back in the fold for this year. They were part of one of only a handful of units that allowed less than a goal a game last year. Veterans Callie McLaughlin(Centerport, NY/New Hampton School)Nicole Flak (Middleton, MA/Boston Shamrocks)Ava Suda (Cheektowaga, NY/Buffalo Bisons), and Nicole Fitzgerald (Mechanicsburg, PA/The Hill School) are also back in the mix. Newcomers will also be a huge part of the story. Emma Corbett (Rochester, NY/Adrian College (NCAA DIII)) comes back to her home state after playing at national power Adrian, where she appeared in 69 games for the Bulldogs. Faithe Harris (West Kelowna, BC/Manhattanville College (NCAA DIII))has moved over from longtime UCHC rival Manhattanville, where she played two seasons, and Madison Richman (Scituate, MA/North Shore Vipers) joins the team as a rookie. 

In Goal: The Pioneers will carry three goaltenders this season, led by 5’3 dynamo Angela Hawthorne (Santa Clara, CA/Meijer). Now in her senior year, the UCHC Goaltender of the Year two years running has over 30 career wins, over 1,000 career saves, 11 career shutouts, and has the best career goals against average and save percentage of any goaltender in the history of the program. She will be backed up by experienced netminders Lauryn Brown (Eden, NY/Syracuse Valley Eagles) and Maddie Esposito (Ashburn, VA/Boston Shamrocks)

Up Next: The Pioneers will welcome a star-studded field next Friday and Saturday for the Utica University Kickoff Tournament. Adrian, Elmira, and Suffolk will visit Utica, and the Pioneers will open tournament play against Suffolk at 7 PM on Friday, October 27th. All three visiting teams made the 2023 NCAA Tournament. 

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#30 Lauryn Brown

G 5′ 9″ Sophomore Wellness & Adventure Education

#42 Alexa Carlon

F 5′ 6″ Junior Criminal Psychology

#41 Maddie Esposito

G 5′ 7″ Junior Cybersecurity

#11 Nicole Fitzgerald

D 5′ 5″ Junior Health Studies-Physical Therapy

#9 Nicole Flak

D 5′ 4″ Junior Nursing

#32 Angela Hawthorne

G 5′ 2″ Junior Business Management

#3 Abby Lillis

F 5′ 5″ Senior Criminal Justice/Psychology

#8 Callie McLaughlin

D 5′ 8″ Sophomore Health Studies-Physical Therapy

#5 Hailey Modlin

F 5′ 6″ Junior Health Studies-Physical Therapy

#17 Madison Novotny

D 5′ 3″ Junior Health Studies-Physical Therapy

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