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Nicolas Haviar nets a hat trick as #6 Utica beats Lebanon Valley

Credit: Scott Kinville

The #6 Utica Pioneers Men’s Hockey Team (12-2-3 overall, 11-0-1 UCHC) completed a two-game sweep of UCHC rival Lebanon Valley on Sunday afternoon. They defeated the Dutchmen 5-2 on Saturday night and with a big contribution from freshman forward Nicolas Haviar, picked up a 7-1 victory on Sunday afternoon.

Haviar came to the Pioneers this season from the New Mexico Wolves and Minnesota Wilderness of the NAHL. Through his first seven games played, he had registered one assist. On Sunday he not only got his first collegiate goal, but his first collegiate hat trick.

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Sunday’s game was played at the Utica University Nexus Center, as it was the makeup game that was supposed to take place there on Friday night. The Pioneers wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, as Andrew Della Rovere scored just seventeen seconds after the opening faceoff. Five minutes later, they added to their lead when Eric Vitale scored his second goal of the weekend with Dante Spagnuolo and Brian Scoville drawing the assists.

Utica’s Andrew Della Rovere (#27) scans the action from behind the net with Lebanon Valley’s Ian Lindberg (#44) and goaltender Chris Branch (#31). Photo credit: Scott Kinville.

Lebanon Valley was awarded a two-minute power play with 5:38 remaining in the first period when Preston Brighton took an interference. The Dutchmen killed their own power play a minute into it, as Blake Tosco took a tripping penalty. It would prove costly, as when Utica went on their power play they converted. Scoville sent a pass from the left point down to the left circle to Khristian Acosta, who turned and fired a shot past goaltender Chris Branch and into the top right corner of the net.

Despite not facing a shot for the first eight minutes of the game, Utica goaltender Ethan Roberts made seven saves in the first period – including a goal-saving blocker save in the closing seconds.

Utica’s Ethan Roberts (#35) and Kimball Johnson (#20) defend their net against Lebanon Valley’s Blake Tosco (#19) during Sunday’s game. Photo credit: Scott Kinville.

The home team carried a 3-0 lead into the second period and took just 1:35 into the middle frame to add to it. Captain Brian Scoville picked up his fourth point of the game when he snapped a shot from the left point past Branch and in. Scoville finished the game with one goal and three assists.

In a day where not much went right for them, the Dutchmen got a break two and a half minutes after the Scoville goal. While on the power play, Brenden Yingling put a rebound off a shot by Harri Blackwood past Roberts and in. After the Yingling goal, Lebanon Valley head coach Don Parsons pulled goaltender Branch for Gabriel Pigeon. Branch appeared to be in discomfort as he skated to the bench.

After Pigeon entered the game, the Pioneers welcomed him with a barrage of shots. With 7:42 remaining in the second period, Haviar scored the first of his three goals. He took a pass from Della Rovere and beat Pigeon from the right slot. Goal number two came about six and a half minutes later. This time Alexander Gullichsen slid a beauty of a cross-ice pass from the left side to Haviar, who wired a shot into the top of the net from the bottom of the right circle. After the two goals by Haviar, the Pioneers took a 6-1 lead into the second intermission.

Gabriel Lundberg (#30) of the Pioneers sets up in front of the Lebanon Valley crease while Artem Mikhaylov (#49) and Chris Branch (#31) defend during Sunday’s game. Photo credit: Scott Kinville.

With the Pioneers firmly in control of the game in the third period, the only question that remained was if Haviar would complete his hat trick. That question was answered with 5:33 remaining when he sent a centering pass while falling in the left circle that bounced off a Lebanon Valley defender and into the net. It was all smiles from there for the Pioneer faithful, as their team skated away with a 7-1 victory in their final scheduled appearance at the Nexus Center this season.

Brian Scoville led all scorers with four points (one goal and three assists), and shots with seven. Nicolas Haviar (three goals), Andrew Della Rovere (one goal and two assists), Griffen Barr (three assists), and Alexander Gullichsen (two assists) all had multiple-point games as well. Ethan Roberts made twenty-four saves in net for Utica to pick up his eighth win of the season.

The Pioneers return to action this weekend with a home-in-home series against UCHC rival Nazareth. Game one is on Friday night at the Adirondack Bank Center. The scene shifts to Rochester on Saturday afternoon for the second game. For more information about Utica Pioneers hockey, visit https://uticapioneers.com.

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