#14 Utica Cruises Past Neumann in 13th Annual Teddy Bear Toss

UTICA, NY – Utica freshman Josh Haskin (Troy, NY/P.A.L. Jr. Islanders (USPHL)) scored just 1:25 into the contest to ignite the 13th annual New York Sash Teddy Bear Toss Saturday night at the Adirondack Bank Center.  Freshman Brett Everson (Mississauga, Ontario/Hawkesbury (CCHL))went on to post five assists, while senior forward Roman Ammirato (Williamstown, NJ/Union College (ECAC)) added two goals and one assist, as the nationally-ranked No. 10/14 Pioneers' earned a key 9-1 victory over visiting Neumann University in United Collegiate Hockey Conference action.

Following Haskin's first period goal 1,000's of stuffed animals rained down to the ice as part of the College's annual community toy drive. Over the course of 13 seasons the Pioneers have partnered with New York Sash to collect over 30,000 stuffed animals to be donated to local children throughout the holiday season. The stuffed animals will be donated to a collaborative toy drive with partners Operation Sunshine and Toys for Tots.

Senior captain Brett Szajner (Novi, MI/Amarillo (NAHL)) and junior Zach Borsoi (Brossard, Quebec/Gloucester (CCHL)) each added one goal and one assist as the Pioneers won their seventh straight game and improved to 10-2 overall for just the second time in program-history.  The last time Utica stared the season 10-2 was back in 2012-13 when it went on to advance as far as the final four of the NCAA Division III Men's Hockey Championships. UC also improved to 6-2 in the UCHC and sits atop the conference standings heading into the semester break.

16 of the Pioneers' 18 skaters registered at least one point on the afternoon. Vince Stefan and Kevin Valenti(Queensbury, NY/Northern Cyclones (EHL)) each added two assists for the home team.

Haskin got things started with the fastest goal in the 13 year history of the Utica teddy bear toss as he lit the lamp just 1:25 into the contest.  Haskin's second collegiate goal was assisted by Brett Everson(Mississauga, Ontario/Hawkesbury (CCHL)) and Dalton Carter (Toledo, OH/Northern Cyclones (EHL))

Utica began to pull away in the second period.  Gregg Burmaster (Clinton, NY/Colorado College (NCHC))gave Utica a 2-0 lead with his fifth of the year 1:40 into the second, assisted by Borsoi and Valenti. Szajner then added his second goal of the season, short-handed, and it was assisted by Ammirato and Everson.  Freshman Conor Landrigan (New Tripoli, PA/Binghamton Jr. Sens (NAHL)) netted a power-play tally at the 14:19 marker of the second period, assisted by Daniel Fritz (Harwood, MD/Canisius College (Atlantic Hockey)) and Everson, to give UC a commanding 4-0 advantage.

Neumann then posted its lone goal of the game on the power-play to make it a 4-1 contest with less than two minutes to go in the second.

Before the end of the second period Ammirato pushed home his first power-play goal of the night to extend Utica's lead back to four goals, 5-1.

UC put the contest out of reach in the third period as Borsoi, Ammirato, Jarrod Fitzpatrick (Wakefield, MA/Northern Cyclones (EHL)) and Anthony McVeigh (Kemptville, Ontario/Carleton Place (CCHL)) each netted a goal to give Utica the convincing 9-1 lead. 

Pioneer netminder Patrik Virtanen (Vantaa, Finland/Lincoln (USHL)) moved his record to 6-1 overall on the year as he stopped 17 shots on the night and allowed just one goal.  Neumann goalies Anthony Pupplo and Matt Gibney combined to stop 32 shots as the Pioneers earned a convincing 41-18 shot advantage in the eight goal victory.

Utica was impressive on the power-play to help dominate the Knights.  The Pioneers finished the evening going 4-for-7 (57%) with a man-advantage.

Utica will return to the ice when it travels to nationally-ranked Adrian College on January 6th to take on the Bulldogs at 7:05 p.m.

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