No. 9/9 Men’s Hockey Hands No. 4/5 Utica First Loss of the Year

No. 9/9 Men’s Hockey Hands No. 4/5 Utica First Loss of the Year

UTICA, N.Y. – With an impressive 29 save performance by freshman netminder Jordan Bustard (Flanders, N.J.) the ninth ranked Beacons handed number 4/5 Utica College their first loss of the 2016-17 season in front of a 3,162 fans Friday evening at Utica Memorial Auditorium.

THE BASICS

#9/9 UMass Boston 4, #4/5 Utica College

UMass Boston (5-2-0)
Utica College (8-1-0)

HOW IT HAPPENED

Along with the standout play of Bustard, the Beacons also got huge offensive production from freshman as they accounted for three of the Beacons four goals.  

Colin Larkin (Waterford, Mich.) got the Beacons on the board early in the first period, when he scored on a one-timer in front of the Utica College net.  After holding off an early rush by the Pioneers, the Beacons defense collected the puck and quickly brought it up the length of the ice.  A long pass up the ice was waved off by the officials, as Tyler Sifferlen (North Andover, Mass.) managed to play the puck around the boards. 

His pass would then find the stick of Ryan Cusin (Detroit, Mich.), who saw Larking cutting across the crease.  The freshman fired off a pass that found his teammate at the perfect time.  Larkin then redirected the hard pass past Utica's Patrik Virtanen to make it 1-0 UMB.

Eleven minutes later the Pioneers would answer back to even the score at 1-1 with Alex Roberts finding the back of the net.  However, the tie did not last long with freshman Cody Wickline (Flower Mound, Texas) putting UMass back out in front 2:06 to play in the opening period. 

With a player right on his back Nolan Redler (Winchester, Mass.) was able to find a wide-open Wickline on the far side of the goal.  Right before he was pushed to the ice, Redler got the puck to his teammate, who then blasted a one-timer past Virtanen to give the Beacons a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.

After the break, the two teams battled back-and-forth throughout the second period.  Bustard managed to hold strong, with his team now leading 2-1.  The Pioneers, who rank amongst the most dangerous teams in college hockey, tried everything they could to break the freshman goaltender. 

The Beacons persistence would pay off in a huge way, as they got their third goal of the contest with a mere 18 seconds left on the clock.  Albee Daley (Averill Park, N.Y.) forced a turnover in the neutral zone, to quickly force a counter attack.  Daley would fire off a wrister right in front of the Beacons bench.  Virtanen was unable to coral the puck, on the hard shot, with the rebound landing perfectly on the stick of Sifferlen. 

With the momentum in favor of UMass, the Beacons knew that this was their game to win with only one period left to play in regulation.  Utica College did not go down without a fight, as they made it a one-goal game with just under 10 minutes to play in the contest, thanks to a goal from Roman Ammirato.

The Pioneers used this late goal to build some momentum, as they looked to score the equalizer as soon as possible to at-least for an overtime period.  However, the Beacons defense, led by Bustard held strong over the final 10 minutes as time continued to count down quickly.

Still trailing by one, the Pioneers pulled their goaltender, and also received a huge gift in the final minute of play in the form of a power-play.  Neither factor made any difference, as Bustard was rock solid over the final 60 seconds, and with an empty-netter shorthanded goal by Dakota Keene (Poland, Maine), the Beacons collected perhaps their biggest win since last year's victory over Hobart College in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal round. 

BY THE NUMBERS

  • On the night UMass Boston finished 0-for-1 on the PP, while Utica went 0-for-6
  • Virtanen recorded 23 saves as he dropped to 4-1 on the season
  • Utica College went 39-70 on the face-off, while the Beacons finished 31-70 in the win
  • Drew Gannon led the Beacons on the face-off dot as he won nine face-offs
  • Friday's contest marked the first ever between the Beacons and Utica College
  • The 3,162 fans in attendance marked the largest crowd the Beacons have ever played in front of in program history

WHO'S NEXT

The Beacons will travel to SUNY Morrisville tomorrow for a 4 p.m. non-conference game.