RYE, N.Y. – The Utica College men's hockey team netted three unanswered goals to earn a 4-3 overtime victory against host and second seeded Manhattanville College on Saturday night in the ECAC West Conference Tournament semifinals. Utica's Anthony McVeigh (Kemptville, Ontario/Carleton Place (CCHL)) netted the game-tying goal in the third period and he also added the game-winner 3:02 into the overtime period to lift the Pioneers into the ECAC West Championship game at Hobart on March 5th.
Utica is now advancing to its second ECAC West title game in the last three years and fourth overall in the program's 15-year history. UC is still in search of its first conference tournament title. The Pioneers now hold a 14-9-4 overall record and have won three straight games headed into next weekend's title game at top seeded and nationally-ranked No. 5/6 Hobart.
McVeigh finished the night with a team-high two goals, while Trent Samuels-Thomas (West Hartford, CT/Omaha (USHL)) added one goal and one assist. Senior Nick Miglio (San Antonio, TX/Bismarck (NAHL)) also added one goal and one assist, giving him four points in the playoffs. Sophomore assistant captain Brett Szajner (Novi, MI/Amarillo (NAHL)) added two assists.
The score stood at 3-1 in favor of the Valiants until early in the third period when Samuels-Thomas netted his third goal of the season to make it a 3-2 game 1:53 into the period. Miglio and sophomore Vince Stefan (Pittsburgh, PA/Kenai River (NAHL)) assisted on the Pioneers second goal of the night.
McVeigh then knotted the contest up at 3-3 at the 5:39 marker of the third period, assisted by Szajner and senior assistant captain Joel Wetmore (Horseheads, NY/Lindsay (OJHL)), to set up the thrilling overtime victory.
McVeigh's overtime game-winner came immediately after a Manhattanville two-on-one that was thwarted by UC goalie Michael Fredrick (Lethbridge, Alberta/Brooks Bandits (AJHL)). Utica sophomore defender Dalton Carter (Toledo, OH/Northern Cyclones (EHL)) then flipped the puck down the boards right to the stick of the streaking McVeigh who went in alone on the breakaway and converted past Manhattanville goalie Tyler Feaver 3:02 into the overtime period.
Fredrick finished the night with 20 saves in net for Utica, while Feaver added 33 stops for the Valiants.
The Pioneers fell into an early 1-0 hole just 2:53 into the contest when Manhattanville's Matt Coleman netted the game's opening goal off assists from Eric Berglund and Oscar Arfelt to give the Valiants the 1-0 lead early in the first period.
Manhattanville pushed its lead to 2-0 with 19 seconds left in the first period when Casper Dryssen netted his fourth goal of the season, assisted by Jeff Beck and Thimmy Garbenius, to give the Valiants the two goal first period lead.
Midway through the second period Utica cut into its deficit when senior Nick Miglio (San Antonio, TX/Bismarck (NAHL)) continued his recent tear with his second goal of the playoffs to make it a 2-1 game 7:41 into the second period. Zach Borsoi (Brossard, Quebec/Gloucester (CCHL)) and Samuels-Thomas assisted on Miglio's seventh goal of the season.
Manhattanville then took its two goal lead back when Jared Martin netted a power-play goal, assisted by Matt Lippia and Cory Anderson, 9:54 into the second period.
The 3-1 score stood until early in the third period when Samuels-Thomas netted his third goal of the season to make it a 3-2 game. After that, McVeigh took over and completed the Pioneer comeback with the game's final two goals.
Manhattanville finished its season with a 12-13-1 overall record. Utica outshot the Valiants 37-23 on the day, including 17-7 in the final 23:02 of the contest.