STAMFORD, Conn. – A last-minute comeback for the Valiants came up just short as the Manhattanville men's hockey team dropped a 3-2 decision to No. 2 Utica in an ECAC West Conference matchup on Friday night at Terry Conners Rink.
Combined with No. 11 Neumann's 5-3 win over Nazareth tonight, Manhattanville (13-9-2, 6-6-2 ECAC West) falls back into fourth place in the conference standings with the loss, one point behind Neumann with one game to go. The Valiants will need to beat Utica (20-4-0, 11-3-0 ECAC West) and have the Golden Flyers knock off the Knights tomorrow in order to move up to the third seed in next week's ECAC West Tournament.
The first period was controlled by the visiting Pioneers, who posted a 15-6 edge in shots, and yet the Valiants limited the damage. UC's Eric Peterson broke the ice at the 7:11 mark, when he redirected a shot from Justin Hogan past sophomore netminder Alex Scola to put the Pioneers in front. But that was all that Utica could get by Scola, who made several key saves to keep it a one-goal game after 20 minutes.
It was Manhattanville's chance to carry play for most of the middle frame, as it was the Valiants who scored the only goal of the period and registered a 17-12 edge in shots to send the game into the third period even at one. After a scramble in front of the Pioneer net, sophomore Paul Sirignano pushed the puck across the crease to Coleman, who got it past a mass of people in front to net his ninth goal of the year. Senior assistant captain Scott Hudson also assisted on the goal for the home team, which came at the 7:15 mark.
That led to a wild third period of play, in which both teams had multiple opportunities to score. Utica struck first to gain its second lead of the night 5:54 into the period, when Louis Educate corralled the rebound of a Ridge Garbutt shot and put it past Scola for his conference-best 17th goal of the year.
Manhattanville had a bunch of chances to even the score, including a power-play chance that saw six straight shots denied by Utica netminder Nick Therrien. Soon after that penalty expired Hudson was whistled for a five-minute major that put the home team in a tough spot, and that was made tougher after Jon Gaffney stuffed the puck home at the near post with 3:42 remaining in regulation to make it 3-1 Pioneers.
The Valiants did not quit, however, and got back within one thanks to a shorthanded tally from senior Jason Bowles. After forcing a turnover at the offensive blue line, the senior passed across the ice to sophomore Joel Rosenberg and then raced to the net just in time to redirect a Rosenberg shot under the pads of Therrien for his seventh tally of the season.
The home team had two more shots on goal in the waning minutes and emptied the net for the final 55 seconds, but could not find the equalizer. The Valiants finished the third period with a 13-10 edge in shots, putting the three-period totals at 37-36 in favor of Utica.
Scola (4-2-0) suffered his first loss of the year as a starter despite turning aside 34 of the 37 shots he faced. Therrien (18-3-0) earned the win for Utica thanks to his 34-save effort.
Manhattanville and Utica will conclude their two-game series tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Terry Conners Rink, as the Valiants will honor their six graduating players with Senior Day before closing out the regular-season schedule against the Pioneers. GoValiants.TV will have all the live coverage beginning at 3:45 p.m.