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Utica Thanksgiving Showcase preview

The Utica Thanksgiving Showcase tournament will take place at the Adirondack Bank Center on Friday and Saturday.

The third-ranked Utica Pioneers Men’s Hockey Team is set to host its annual Utica Thanksgiving Showcase this weekend. This year’s slate of teams could be among the strongest to ever play in the tournament.

“We’ve got some whales coming in here,” Pioneers Head Coach Gary Heenan said of the teams coming to town this weekend, “It’s an unbelievable tournament, just the field in general”. That field includes the eighth-ranked Oswego St. Lakers, the Elmira Soaring Eagles, and the Saint Johns Johnnies. The tournament begins on Friday at 4:00 p.m. when Oswego faces Elmira followed by Utica vs Saint Johns at 7:30 p.m.

Central New York in the USCHO polls November 20, 2023

Elmira vs #8 Oswego

The first game features two teams that have played each other already and also have big wins on their resume. The Lakers opened their season by defeating the then-number-one Hobart Statesmen. The following night it was the complete opposite as they lost to the Soaring Eagles in Elmira by a score of 7-3.

Elmira is not ranked in this week’s USCHO poll, but should be very soon. On Tuesday, they defeated #5 Geneseo 6-2. They also hold wins over #11 Norwich as well as the aforementioned victory over Oswego.

Teams in the showcase will need to look out for Elmira’s offense. Led by Division III’s second-leading scorer Nicholas Domitrovic, the Soaring Eagles are sixth nationally in goals scored per game and have Division III’s best power play.

The Lakers are a veteran-heavy team, with fourteen seniors or graduate students on their roster. On offense, they are led by senior Shane Bull. The 5′ 10″, 220-pound forward has five goals and eight assists for thirteen points in seven games played.

“These are two grizzly, old veteran teams with high, high, high expectations that are both gonna graduate a boatload” Heenan observed about both teams. They’re gonna get after it and it’s gonna be one heck of a hockey game that I’m really looking forward to watching”.

The entire interview with Utica Pioneers Mens Hockey Head Coach Gary Heenan.

Saint John’s vs #3 Utica

Following the Elmira vs Oswego showdown, the Pioneers will take on Saint John’s starting at 7:30 p.m. Although, the Johnnies enter the showcase with a record of 2-5-0, Coach Heenan knows they should not be taken lightly. On a recent episode of The Central New York Hockey Report Podcast, he had the following to say about his team’s opponents on Friday night.

“I hate this scenario because they are a 2-5 team coming in here and they are not a 2-5 team”, Heenan said when asked about Saint Johns. “It’s convincing your team that this is a group that just hasn’t been able to score goals. They’re a team that works extremely hard, they have good size, and they’re pretty much Minnesota through and through” (Saint Johns is located in Minnesota).

Heenan’s team is off to a great start this season. The Pioneers are undefeated through eight games including two ties. They are ranked third in the most recent USCHO poll and received three first-place votes. They are coming off of a dominating two-game sweep at Wilkes, outscoring a very good Colonels team by a total of 10-1.

For more information about the Utica Thanksgiving Showcase and Utica Pioneers hockey, visit https://uticapioneers.com. Here’s a snapshot of each team in the tournament.

Utica Pioneers

  • Overall Record: 6-0-2
  • Conference Record (UCHC): 5-0-1
  • USCHO Ranking: 3
  • Goals For: 33
  • Goals Against: 12
  • Power Play: 22.6% (7 for 31)
  • Penalty Kill: 90.3% (28 for 31)

Individual Leaders

  • Goals: Jakob Breault with 5
  • Assists: Khristian Acosta with 6
  • Points: Jacob Breault with 10
  • Shots: Brian Scoville with 29

Goaltenders

  • Ethan Roberts: 5-0-2 / GAA: 1.56 / Save %: 0.944 / Shutouts: 1
  • Bryan Landsberger: 1-0-0 / GAA: 0.88 / Save %: 0.962 / Shutouts: 0

Saint Johns Johnnies

  • Overall Record: 2-5-0
  • Conference Record: 1-3-0 (MIAC)
  • USCHO Ranking: Unranked
  • Goals For: 17
  • Goals Against: 20
  • Power Play: 7% (3 for 26)
  • Penalty Kill: 88.0% (22 for 25)

Individual Leaders

  • Goals: Jack Wandmacher with 3
  • Assists: Lewis Crosby with 4
  • Points: Lewis Crosby with 5
  • Shots: Lewis Crosby with 23

Goaltenders

  • Bailey Huber: 1-3-0 / GAA: 2.52 / Save %: 0.917 / Shutouts: 0
  • Jon Howe: 1-2-0 / GAA: 2.73 / Save %: 0.914 / Shutouts: 0

Oswego St. Lakers

  • Overall Record: 5-2-0
  • Conference Record: 4-1-0 (SUNYAC)
  • USCHO Ranking: 8
  • Goals For: 25
  • Goals Against: 15
  • Power Play: 21.2% (7 for 33)
  • Penalty Kill: 84.0% (21 for 25)

Individual Leaders

  • Goals: Shane Bull with 5
  • Assists: Shane Bull with 8
  • Points: Shane Bull: 13
  • Shots: Shane Bull with 29

Goaltenders

  • Cal Schell: 3-2-0 / GAA: 2.25 / Save %: 0.891 / Shutouts: 0
  • Brandon Milberg: 2-0-0 / GAA: 1.15 / Save %: 0.957 / Shutouts: 1
  • Richie Parent: 0-0-0 / GAA: 4.50 / Save %: 0.833 / Shutouts: 0

Elmira Soaring Eagles

  • Overall Record: 6-2-0
  • Conference Record: 2-2-0 (NEHC)
  • USCHO Ranking: Unranked, but did receive votes
  • Goals For: 37
  • Goals Against: 22
  • Power Play: 45.0% (9 for 20)
  • Penalty Kill: 67.7% (10 for 31)

Individual Leaders

  • Goals: Nicholas Domitrovic with 9
  • Assists: Nicholas Domitrovic with 8
  • Points: Nicholas Domitrovic with 17
  • Shots: Nicholas Domitrovic with 32

Goaltenders

  • Kyle Curtin: 5-2-0 / GAA: 2.72 / Save %: 0.912 / Shutouts: 1
  • Jeffrey Zero: 1-0-0 / GAA: 3.32 / Save %: 0.896 / Shutouts: 0

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