UTICA, NY- The nationally-ranked No. 9/10 Utica College men’s hockey team came away with a 5-2 win in the semifinals of the UCHC Conference Tournament against sixth-seeded Neumann University on Saturday afternoon at the Adirondack Bank Center.
The Pioneers advance to the conference finals for the second straight season and the third time in the last four years. Utica will await the winner of the Stevenson-Elmira semifinal for the championship game next Saturday at the Adirondack Bank Center at 7 p.m. Tickets for the UCHC championship will go on sale at the Adirondack Bank Center box office at 12 p.m. on Sunday.
Utica (20-5-1) has now reached 20 wins in a season for just the second time in program history. UC is also 12-1-1 on its home ice this season with its only loss at home coming on Nov. 11 against Elmira College.
Utica’s Daniel Fritz (Harwood, MD/Canisius College (Atlantic Hockey)) cut the Pioneers’ second period deficit in half when he rifled home a shot from the point to make it a 2-1 contest with just 41 seconds remaining in the period. Freshman Conor Landrigan (New Tripoli, PA/Binghamton Jr. Sens (NAHL)) and junior Gregg Burmaster (Clinton, NY/Colorado College (NCHC)) were each credited with an assist on the power play goal.
The third period was all Utica as the Pioneers scored four unanswered goals in the final frame, including three tallies in 48 seconds. Landrigan evened the score at 8:13 as a puck deflected off him in front and into the net for his 13th of the year. Burmaster and Dalton Carter (Toledo, OH/Northern Cyclones (EHL)) earned assists on the play.
Senior Kevin Valenti (Queensbury, NY/Northern Cyclones (EHL)) put the Pioneers ahead just :26 later as he put in a rebound off a Zach Borsoi (Brossard, Quebec/Gloucester (CCHL)) shot for his eighth of the season. Burmaster registered his third assist of the day on the game-winner.
Senior Roman Ammirato (Williamstown, NJ/Union College (ECAC)) added an insurance goal at 9:01 as he redirected a shot by Brett Szajner (Novi, MI/Amarillo (NAHL)) to give Utica a 4-2 lead. Anthony McVeigh(Kemptville, Ontario/Carleton Place (CCHL)) also assisted on Ammirato’s team-leading 21st goal of the year.
Utica capped off the scoring at 14:51 when Jacob Gerson (Colorado Springs, CO/Hampton Roads (USPHL))found the back of the net for his eighth of the year, assisted by Vince Stefan and Tyler Pietrowski (Curtice, OH/Odessa Jackalopes (NAHL)).
UC goalie Patrik Virtanen (Vantaa, Finland/Lincoln (USHL)) stopped 27 shots for the Pioneers, while his counterpart Matt Gibney made 34 saves for the Knights. The Pioneers were 1-for-3 on the power play while holding Neumann scoreless on two opportunities with the man advantage.