Utica College wins overtime thriller in season opener

Utica College Mens Hockey takes the first of a two game set against Adrian College.

This weekends two game series pitting the Utica College Pioneers versus the Adrian College Bulldogs is billed as a battle between two hockey powerhouses. The first game on Saturday at the Adirondack Bank Center certainly did not disappoint, as the Pioneers engineered a 3-2 come from behind victory in overtime.

Utica College and Adrian College are certainly not strangers to close games between the two. The last time they met was in January of 2020 in Adrians home in rink in Michigan. Utica College won both of those games in overtime on goals by Regen Cavanagh – remember that name.

Brand new episode of Marty’s Illegal Stick featuring our Utica College Men’s hockey preview with Coach Gary Heenan

The game started with Utica College applying heavy pressure in the Adrain zone, but surprise Bulldogs starter Nic Tallarico was able to keep the Pioneers from lighting the lamp. Adrian was then able to get their defensive scheme together and began applying forechecking pressure of their own. It was that pressure that would lead to the Bulldogs getting the first goal of the game on a shot by Chase Spencer that beat the Pioneers goalie, Freshman Felix-Louis St. Jean, to make the score 1-0.

Utica College would find themselves killing two minor penalties in the early going of the second period. Four minutes after killing the second penalty, the Pioneers went down 2-0 after Adrian’s Mathew Rehding took advantage of a loose puck scramble in front of St. Jean and put the puck over the goal line.

Utica , however, would rally the troops after the Rehding goal. With just over five minutes to go in the period, Brandon Osmundson hit the goal post nearly getting the Pioneers on the scoreboard. After that, Utica began to turn on the pressure and it would pay off. With 1:44 left in the second, Brett Everson would feed Regan Cavanagh on an outlet pass from the defensive zone, and Cavanagh took care of the rest. He beat Tallarico with a wrist shot to make the score 2-1 and finally giving the home crowd something to cheer about. If Adrian College has a most wanted list, Regen Cavanagh just certainly be on it by now.

Utica College Pioneers hockey season opens today

The first eight minutes of the third period had the feel of two teams that didn’t want to get caught making a mistake. Then, the Pioneers would tie the game when Junior John Moncovich ripped a shot over Tallarico’s shoulder from the left Faceoff circle to turn the momentum Utica’s way.

The last half of the period would be filled with excitement and chances for both teams. Utica College would turn up the physical play, while Adrian College’s strong defensive structure would stymie the hometown Pioneers. St. Jean made two huge saves in the latter half of the third to keep the score tied and send the game to overtime.

In the three on three overtime, Utica College dominated possession of the puck right from the start. After getting several good looks, the Pioneers finally cashed in when captain Dante Zapata fed fellow Junior Buster Larsson in the slot, where he put the puck into the net through the five hole, lifting the Pioneers to the win. The teams will meet again on Sunday October 31st at the Adirondack Bank Center with a start time of 3:00pm.

Notes: The Pioneers outshot the Bulldogs 30-23….Neither team scored on the power play, Utica was 0/6, Adrian was 0/3….St. Jean picked up his first ever regular season collegiate victory….St. Jean (Utica) made 21 saves, Tallarico (Adrian) made 27 saves….Regen Cavanagh led the Pioneers in scoring with 2 points, six Bulldogs each had 1 point.

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