The 2013-2014 season begins Saturday when Brockport travels to Utica to take on the Pioneers at Utica Memorial Auditorium. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM.
Utica took it to another level last year, making it to Division III's Final Four on the strength of a 21-6-1 record. D3Hockey.com has them ranked 3rd nationally in their poll, while USCHO.com has them ranked 6th. They likely won't miss a beat and will continue that success this year: The roster features 22 returns!
Nick Therrien will start in goal for the Pioneers. How owned the playing time last year and finished 19-5-1 with a .921 save percentage and a 2.21 goals
Utica can score goals in bunches. They had 7 men with 20(+) points last year and 6 with 10(+) goals, led by Louie Educate, who is still only a junior this year. Last season the All-American had 36 points thanks to 18 goals and 18 assists. Jon Gaffney and Trevor Hertz were tied for second on the team with 13 goals each. Blueliner Donny Olivieri had a 22-point season as a freshman, so he's a serious 2-way threat.
Utica player to watch: Rob Morton is a local hero to the Utica fans, having been raised in New Hartford. The kid had 10 goals last season and with this being his last home opener, expect some of the emotion and excitement to drive him.
Brockport player to watch: Jeremy DeFazio is not only the player to watch this game, but all season. He brings a special kind of high energy to the ice (without being the least bit reckless) and when his shift is on, people are left saying, "who is that guy?" Expect him to double his 4-7-11 stat line this year. He will be especially motivated this game as his brother Brandon plays for the Utica Comets and will likely be watching from the stands.
The teams haven't played against one another in 2 years, but those were 2
entirely different teams (Brockport was still sporting the
Cody-Finnerty connection). At the time, Brockport fell 5-3 after coming
out strong 2-0 in the first period.
With all of Utica's firepower, it will be a tough game for Brockport, even with Jared Lockhurst at the top of his game in net. My prediction: 4-2, Utica. It's a very tough team and a very tough environment.
If you can make it to the game, know that the Pioneers sport the greatest attendance in DIII, year in, year out, so if you want some good seating, but your tickets online here: http://www.ticketmaster.com/Utica-College-Mens-Hockey-tickets/artist/1152262 (tickets are $10.30 each). Despite the addition of the AHL Comets to the Utica hockey season (it's no longer a one-team town), you will still see large crowds given the success of last year's Pioneers.
If you can't make it to the game, Brockport's WBSU will be there. You can listen on-air in the Brockport area at 89.1 FM or you can always listen online at www.891thepoint.com
Another option that you should not overlook is Utica's broadcast. Senior Ray Biggs mans WPNR's broadcasts and he does an exceptional job. The man knows his hockey and also hosts a weekly DIII hockey show on the station. Listen live at: https://www.utica.edu/student/activities/organizations/wpnr/listenlive.cfm
You can also watch the game online at the Brockport Athletics website. Click on "details" on the team's schedule page and it will direct you to the video link: http://www.gobrockport.com/schedule.aspx?path=mhockey