The Pioneers fall to number one ranked Geneseo in the final of their tournament at the Adirondack Bank Center.
The final of the Thanksgiving Showcase Classic featured the Utica College Pioneers versus the Geneseo Knights in a battle of number two against number one in the most recent USCHO Men’s Division III poll. Unfortunately for the hometown Pioneers, it was the Knights who skated away with the tournament champions trophy.
Utica College had to defeat a very plucky Amherst College team on the night before. The underdog Mammoths surprised the Pioneers with a physical, defensive-minded game plan that repeatedly stifled the number one ranked offense in men’s Division III hockey. Utica College ultimately won the game by a score of 3-0, but clung to a one-goal advantage until late in the third, when goals by Mic Curran and Regen Cavanagh sealed the game for the Pioneers. Sean Dickson earned his eighth career shutout, which is the new program record.
With the win over Amherst, Gary Heenan won the 305th game of his career, putting him ahead of Phil Grady in all-time wins. Grady coached Heenan at Hamilton College.
SUNY Geneseo easily disposed of the UMass Boston Beacons by a score of 6-2 in the other semi-final game to set up the final game against the Pioneers.
In the first period of the championship game, both teams would get chances, but it was Geneseo who capitalized. Peter Morgan flung a wrist shot from the point that found its way through several players before eluding Pioneers goaltender Sean Dickson to make the score 1-0. The Morgan goal was the only one of the first period.
It appeared Utica College tied the score in the second period when the puck wound up in the Geneseo net after a scramble in front of their crease. The officials almost immediately waved the goal off however as they felt there was incidental contact with Knights goaltender Matt Petizian. The waved-off goal would loom large later in the game.
The Pioneers opened the offense up in the third period forcing Petizian to make several saves. Utica College would get a power play with four minutes left in the game trailing by one when Geneseo’s Nicolas Elias took a minor slashing penalty. Despite getting chances, the Pioneers could not convert forcing coach Heenan to vacate the Utica College net as the power play expired. Geneseo took full advantage by scoring two empty-net goals sealing the Pioneer’s fate. Despite outshooting Geneseo by a total of 23-15, the Pioneers fell by a score of 3-0. Geneseo now has an overall record of 8-0-1, while Utica College falls to 7-2-0. Both of Utica College’s losses have come to teams ranked in the top five of the USCHO poll.