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New faces abound for the Utica Pioneers Mens Hockey Team

Credit: Scott Kinville

There will be plenty of new faces in the lineup for the #6 Utica Pioneers when they open their regular season at home against #2 Adrian.

The Utica Pioneers Mens Hockey Team will have a new look when it takes the ice for the 2023-24 season.

The team will still be adorned in its navy blue, orange, and white colors, but many of the players wearing those uniforms will be different. This team will only have ten players returning from a 2022-23 team that put up a perfect record in the UCHC and reached number one in the USCHO poll for the first time in program history.

Replacing men like Dante Zapata, Justin Allen, Connor Fedorek, Lucas Herrmann, Jayson Dobay, Mic Curran, Joey Berkopec, Remy Parker, Regen Cavanagh, Brandon Osmundson, Buster Larsson, Jaxon Rutkowski, and John Moncovich won’t be easy. Undaunted, Utica Head Coach Gary Heenan and Assistant Coach Nick Therrien have brought in a large incoming class of first-year players and transfers to replenish the ranks and build a new foundation of Pioneers hockey.

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

In total, Utica has brought in fifteen first-year players plus two transfers. Nine of the first-year players are forwards, while six are defensemen. The transfers consist of one forward and one goaltender.

The First Year Forwards

Aiden Hughes

  • Height: 6′ 0″
  • Weight: 175 pounds
  • Age: 21
  • Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario
  • 2022-23 Team: Milton Menace of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL)
  • 2022-23 Statistics: 53GP / 31G / 45A / 76Pts / 70PIM. Playoffs: 9GP / 7G / 3A / 10Pts / 18PIM.
  • Notes: Prior to coming to Utica, Hughes played five seasons in the OJHL – including the last four with the Menace.

Andrew Della Rovere

  • Height: 6′ 0″
  • Weight: 185 pounds
  • Age: 21
  • Hometown: Caledon East, Ontario
  • 2022-23 Team: Georgetown Raiders of the OJHL
  • 2022-23 Statistics: 53GP / 25G / 58A / 83Pts / 26PIM. Playoffs: 8GP / 3G / 6A / 9PIM / 8PIM
  • Notes: Della Rovere was with the Raiders for three seasons prior to coming to the Pioneers. He served as team captain in 2022-23.

Vladislav Pshenichnikov

  • Height: 6′ 1″
  • Weight: 190 pounds
  • Age: 21
  • Hometown: Moscow, Russia
  • 2022-23 Team: Utica Jr. Comets (NCDC)
  • 2022-23 Statistics: 49GP / 20G / 22A / 42Pts / 82PIM
  • Notes: Pshenichnikov chose to continue his hockey career in Utica, as he comes to the Pioneers from the Utica Jr. Comets NCDC team.

Michael Herrera

  • Height: 5′ 10″
  • Weight: 180 pounds
  • Age: 21
  • Hometown: Syracuse, NY
  • 2022-23 Team: Utica Jr. Comets (NCDC)
  • 2022-23 Statistics: 49GP / 31G / 21A / 52Pts / 71PIM
  • Notes: Herrera is a “local guy” as he hails from Syracuse and played for three seasons in the Utica Jr. Comets program. He served as the captain of the Jr. Comets NCDC team in 2022-23.

Alexander Gullichsen

  • Height: 6′ 3″
  • Weight: 193 pounds
  • Age: 20
  • Hometown: Turku, Finland
  • 2022-23 Team: Aberdeen Wings of the North American Hockey League (NAHL)
  • 2022-23 Statistics: 55GP / 18G / 17A / 35Pts / 12PIM

Drake Morse

  • Height: 6′ 1″
  • Weight: 180 pounds
  • Age: 20
  • Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • 2022-23 Team: Shreveport Mudbugs of the NAHL
  • 2022-23 Statistics: 58GP / 23G / 28A / 51 Pts / 12 PIM. Playoffs: 8GP / 2G / 0A / 2Pts / 2PIM
  • Notes: Morse played two seasons for the Mudbugs prior to coming to Utica.

Eric Vitale

  • Height: 6′ 2″
  • Weight: 194 pounds
  • Age: 21
  • Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
  • 2022-23 Team: Shreveport Mudbugs of the NAHL
  • 2022-23 Statistics: 54GP / 17G / 20A / 37Pts / 32PIM. Playoffs: 8GP / 0G / 3A / 3Pts / 2PIM
  • Notes: Vitale scored the lone goal for the Pioneers in their preseason game against the USNTDP U18 Team.

Nicholas Havier

  • Height: 6′ 0″
  • Weight: 190 pounds
  • Age: 20
  • Hometown: Vail, Colorado
  • 2022-23 Team: New Mexico Ice Wolves and Minnesota Wilderness of the NAHL
  • 2022-23 Statistics: 52GP / 4G / 4A / 8Pts / 2PIM. Playoffs: 2GP / 0G / 0A / 0Pts / 0PIM
  • Notes: Prior to coming to Utica, Haviar played three seasons in the NAHL – mostly for the New Mexico Ice Wolves

Gabriel Lundberg

  • Height: 5′ 11″
  • Weight: 175 pounds
  • Age: 21
  • Hometown: Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 2022-23 Team: Janesville Jets of the NAHL
  • 2022-23 Statistics: 54GP / 7G / 24A / 31Pts / 34Pts
  • Notes: While in his native Europe, Lundberg played for Sweden’s renowned Frolunda organization.

First Year Defensemen

Aydin Parekh

  • Height: 5′ 10″
  • Weight: 190 pounds
  • Age: 21
  • Hometown: Nobelton, Ontario
  • 2022-23 Team: North York Rangers and Georgetown Raiders of the OJHL
  • 2022-23 Statistics: 55GP / 10G / 38A / 48Pts / 80PIM. Playoffs: 8GP / 3G / 6A / 9Pts / 4PIM
  • Notes: Prior to becoming a Pioneer, Parekh played five seasons in the OJHL – mostly for the North York Rangers.

Austin D’Orazio

  • Height: 6′ 0″
  • Weight: 195 pounds
  • Age: 21
  • Hometown: Vaughan, Ontario
  • 2022-23 Team: Trenton Golden Hawks of the OJHL
  • 2022-23 Statistics: 51GP / 10G / 44A / 54Pts / 45PIM. Playoffs: 13GP / 0G / 0A / 8PIM
  • Notes: Before coming to Utica, D’Orazio played two seasons in the OJHL. In 2020-21 he played for three teams in the USPHL NCDC.

Reid Oliver

  • Height: 5′ 11″
  • Weight: 185 pounds
  • Age: 21
  • Hometown: Elmira, Ontario
  • 2022-23 Team: Stratford Warriors of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL)
  • 2022-23 Statistics: 49GP / 14G / 37A / 51Pts / 87PIM. Playoffs: 25GP / 6G / 23A / 29Pts / 20PIM
  • Notes: Coach Heenan said of Oliver on the Warriors website (http://stratfordwarriors.hockey): “We are very excited to have Reid join Pioneer Nation. He can be a shutdown guy and run the top of the power play. What sold us was when Coach Williams praised his leadership and character. The future is bright for Reid Oliver”.

Domenick Evtimov

  • Height: 6′ 0″
  • Weight: 208 pounds
  • Age: 21
  • Hometown: Northbrook, Illinois
  • 2022-23 Team: Fairbanks Ice Dogs and Oklahoma Warriors of the NAHL
  • 2022-23 Statistics: 52GP / 8G / 14A / 22Pts / 130PIM
  • Notes: Evtimov played in the NAHL last season, but played for the Utica Jr. Comets NCDC Team in 2021-22.

Griffen Barr

  • Height: 6′ 0″
  • Weight: 200 pounds
  • Age: 21
  • Hometown: Nanaimo, British Columbia
  • 2022-23 Team: Vernon Vipers of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL)
  • 2022-23 Statistics: 38GP / 3G / 15A / 18Pts / 33PIM. Playoffs: 11GP / 2G / 2A / 4Pts / 2PIM
  • Notes: Barr played for the Vipers for three seasons prior to coming to Utica.

Preston Brighton

  • Height: 6′ 3″
  • Weight: 200 pounds
  • Age: 20
  • Hometown: Castle Rock, Colorado
  • 2022-23 Team: Amarillo Wranglers of the NAHL
  • 2022-23 Statistics: 60GP / 9G / 13A / 22Pts / 30PIM. Playoffs: 3GP / 0G / 0A/ 0PIM
  • Notes: Brighton played in the NCDC in 2020-21 for the Boston Advantage.

The Transfers

Ethan Roberts

  • Height: 6′ 1″
  • Weight: 190 pounds
  • Age: 21
  • Hometown: Cary, North Carolina
  • Position: Goaltender
  • Class: Sophmore
  • Previous School: St. Thomas (Division I)
  • 2022-23 Statistics: 5GP / Record: 0-2-0 / GAA: 4.53 / Save Percentage: 0.869 / Shutouts: 0

Dante Spagnuolo

  • Height: 5′ 11″
  • Weight: 175 pounds
  • Age: 25
  • Hometown: Newmarket, Ontario
  • Position: Forward
  • Class: Graduate Student
  • Previous School: Adrian College
  • 2022-23 Statistics: 13GP / 0G / 3A / 3Pts / 8PIM
  • Note: Spagnuolo played three seasons of Division I hockey at Mercyhurst prior to his time at Adrian.

For more information about Utica Pioneers hockey, visit https://uticapioneers.com.

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