This past weekend saw the top two teams play each other and the bottom two teams face off, each in a pair of games. Manhattanville hit the road to Elmira to battle the Soaring Eagles for first place.
Ronnie Smith scored first to give the Valiants a 1-0 lead in the opening period Friday, but Elmira’s special teams ruled the second stanza. A pair of power-play goals, sandwiched around a pair of short-handed tallies, staked the Soaring Eagles to a 4-1 lead they never looked back from.
Tempers flared with about five minutes left in the game as the referees attempted to regain control by handing out roughing and misconduct penalties by the dozen. Elmira rolled to a 7-2 victory to solidify itself atop the standings.
Manhattanville took the lead early in Saturday’s contest as well, but this time the Valiants scored again just eight seconds later. Elmira slowly climbed back into the game, eventually tying it 3-3 early in the third period when D’Arcy Oakes scored on the power play. Despite being outshot 58-31 in the game, Scott Hudson’s goal in the third period won the game for the Valiants, 4-3, and handed Elmira its first league loss of the season.
With 55 saves, goaltender Pierre-Olivier Lemieux came within one stop of matching Manhattanville’s all-time save record.
In the other weekend series, Utica and Hobart played a home-and-home series to get out of the bottom of the standings. Remarkably enough, both games were decided by identical 5-2 scores, with Utica earning the sweep.
On Friday, Utica worked up a 2-0 lead early in the second period, but Hobart came back to tie it just six minutes later after a goal by Brad Richard and a penalty-shot goal by Frank Salituro. Utica rattled off the next three goals, including an empty-netter to seal the win.
Saturday saw Hobart get out to a 2-0 lead, only to see Utica rip off the next five goals, again adding an empty-netter, to finish off the weekend.
Evan Chandla led all Pioneers with three goals and two assists in the weekend series.
With a goal and two assists on the weekend, Tim Coffman became the all-time leading scorer for the Utica Pioneers.
The weekend’s results find Elmira still firmly on top of the standings but Manhattanville is within easy reach. Utica’s sweep moved the Pioneers up to third place, and with some help they could still make a run at the top. Hobart is now all but eliminated from the regular season race, and despite being idle last weekend Neumann is in the same boat.