GAME #6 - UTAH 0, #25 ALABAMA 5
PELHAM, Ala. – The No. 25 Alabama hockey program completed a sweep of Utah with a 5-0 victory on Friday night at the Pelham Civic Complex. The win marks the team’s first-ever consecutive sweeps of Division-I opponents. Junior goaltender, Jesse Gordichuk earned his first career shutout, and freshmen Nick Messina and Zach McDaniel scored their first career goals.
Alabama opened the game by taking a penalty within the first 30 seconds, but killed it and immediately responded with a goal. McDaniel scored the first of his career with an assist from freshman Vaughan Kavanaugh just 2:56 into the game. A little over two minutes later, junior Taylor Joseph extended the team’s lead with assists from senior Jon Lovorn, who was skating in his 100th career game, and sophomore Ben Geremski.
“I got told about five minutes before the game that this was game number 100 for me, so I texted my mom and told her it feels like it’s gone by in the blink of an eye,” Lovorn said. Yesterday, I felt like a freshman. Today I’m a first semester senior so I want to thank the coaches that gave me a spot and gave me an opportunity not only be a player but be a leader out here for these guys.
With 13:17 to play in the opening frame, Utah took a penalty for slashing. Senior Jeremy Hannah capitalized just six seconds into the power play to give Alabama a 3-0 lead that it would hold through the end of the period.
Kavanaugh opened the scoring in the second period for his second point of the night. The goal gave Alabama a 4-0 lead and was assisted by junior James Benedetto. Both teams took a minor penalty in the second half of the second period, but neither could capitalize on the opportunities.
“On the bench it was unbelievable energy,” Messina said. “Everyone was getting up and supporting each other. The big thing with our team, is if you have a bad shift, someone’s going to come out and come right back at it and make up for it.”
In the third, Messina tapped a floating puck over the goalie’s shoulders to extend the team’s lead to five goals. Junior Stephen MacInnis and sophomore Marc Demers were credited with assists. Later in the frame, senior Dane Sana was called for interference, and MacInnis quickly followed him to the box for delay of game on the penalty kill. Alabama killed off the 5-on-3 power play thanks to repeated saves from Gordichuk on rebound chances. Gordichuk stopped 25 shots on the night.
The program improves to 5-1 and is off to its hottest start since the 2014-15 season and has won five of its first six games for just the third time in program history.
“It’s unbelievable,” Messina said. “We all knew that coming into this season that we could be a great, we just worked hard and this is where we are. And it feels great being here and being 5-1.”
Alabama returns to action on Oct. 27 when it hosts Canisius at the Pelham Civic Complex. The puck is set to drop at 7 p.m. CT.