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A tough night for Utica Pioneers hockey

Credit: Scott Kinville

The Utica Pioneers Men’s and Women’s Hockey Teams were both in action on Friday night in preseason action. Unfortunately for the Pioneer faithful, neither team could come away with a win.

It was Hockey Night in Utica on Friday night as both the Adirondack Bank Center and Utica University Nexus Center were abuzz with preseason college hockey action. The Pioneers Men’s Team took on the USNTDP U18 Team at the Adirondack Bank Center while the Women’s team faced the SUNY Canton Kangaroos next door.

Men: USNTDP U18 7, Utica Pioneers 1

The Pioneers matchup against the USNTDP U18 Team (Team USA) marked the only exhibition game in Utica’s 2023-24 season. Meanwhile, Team USA has played games since mid-September and is coming off a pair of games against Division I Dartmouth and Boston University.

After some back-and-forth action to start the game, Team USA quickly took a two-goal lead by scoring a pair of goals less than thirty seconds apart. Teddy Stiga beat Utica goaltender Ethan Roberts on a point-blank chance in front of the Pioneers net at the 4:27 mark. Twenty-nine seconds later Cole Eiserman wired a shot from the right side past Roberts, and Team USA was off and running.

Team USA’s Cole Eiserman looks to take a shot against the Utica Pioneers on Friday night. Eiserman is projected to be a top-five pick in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft.

Brandon McMarrow tacked on another goal for Team USA with 6:01 remaining in the first, and the period ended with the visitors holding a 3-0 lead.

A look at the USNTDP U18 Team

Team USA remained red hot to open the second period. They made it 4-0 just forty seconds after the opening faceoff when their captain Brodie Ziemer slid the puck under Roberts and into the back of the net. That goal seemed to light a fire under the Pioneers, however, as they began to take the play to Team USA. They would outshoot the visitors 16-12 in the second frame and had three power-play opportunities. Even with the shot advantage and power play chances, they could not put one past USA goaltender Nick Kempf – who wound up making thirty-seven saves in total. The score remained 4-0 after forty minutes of play.

Team USA put the game away in the third period. New Pioneers goaltender Bryan Landsberger was barraged by three Team USA goals in less than a two-minute span. Eiserman scored two more to complete his hat trick, and Christian Humphreys notched an even-strength goal as well.

Utica’s Eric Vitale broke Kempf’s shutout bid by scoring a goal with 1:51 remaining in the game. That would conclude the scoring and the visitors skated away with a 7-1 victory.

The Utica Pioneers Men’s Team opens its regular season with a pair of games at home next Friday and Saturday against Adrian College.

Women’s: SUNY Canton 3, Utica 2

While the Pioneers Men’s Team was playing Team USA, the Pioneers Women’s Team had a preseason game of their own at the Utica University Nexus Center. Their opponent for the evening was the SUNY Canton Kangaroos from the SUNYAC conference.

An evenly played first period was highlighted by a power play goal from Utica’s Carolyn Whitney at the 18:49 mark. Whitney’s goal was the only marker from either team in the period.

Utica’s Hailey Modlin (#5) carries the puck along the boards during Friday night’s game. Photo credit: Scott Kinville.

Utica added to its lead at 3:40 into the second period Molly Pedone scored what would be chosen the “goal of the night”. Pioneers goaltender Angela Hawthorne surrendered her only goal of the night with 5:30 remaining in the second when Canton’s Makayla Young scored an even-strength goal to bring her team within one.

A look at the Utica Pioneers Women’s Hockey 2023-24 schedule

Hawthorne was replaced in the third period by Maddie Esposito and Lauryn Brown – who each played about half of the period. The Kangaroo’s special teams came through for them in the final frame and ultimately led to a win. Isabella Paswaters scored a power-play goal at the 9:03 mark to tie the game. In the closing minute, Iida Laitinen scored a shorthanded goal for Canton to secure their 3-2 preseason victory.

The Utica Pioneers Women’s Hockey Team opens its regular season next Friday and Saturday when they host the inaugural Utica University Kickoff Tournament.

For more information about Utica Pioneers hockey, visit

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