UTICA, NY – The Utica College men’s hockey team remained ranked in both national polls, and picked up some notable records and accomplishments throughout their 2018-19 season.
On Monday, The UCHC tournament runner-up Pioneers moved down from 11th to 13th in the D3hockey.com Poll, and from 13th to 14th in the US College Hockey Online Men’s Top 15 after going 1-1 this weekend in the tournament finals before a loss in the minigame. They were twelfth in the final NCAA Pairwise rankings.
The Pioneers end their season at 20-7-2 overall, were the regular season conference champions for a third straight year, and the UCHC regular season champions for a second year in a row. The program has back-to-back twenty win seasons for the first time in its existence. They carried a school record-tying twelve game unbeaten streak into the second game of this weekend’s series, and set a new team record for games played in a season with 29. Zach Borsoi (Brossard, Quebec/Gloucester (CCHL)), Daniel Fritz (Harwood, MD/Canisius College (Atlantic Hockey)), Gregg Burmaster (Clinton, NY/Colorado College (NCHC)), and Justin Allen (Rochester, NY/Rochester Monarchs (USPHL-NCDC)) all appeared in 29 games to set the new individual single-season mark.
The Pioneers excelled at home where they were 13-3-1, and 8-0-1 in the UCHC regular season, and 11-1-1 against UCHC competition overall at the Aud while leading the nation again in home attendance. They are 27-4-1 at home in the last two years. The Pioneers ran up an incredible streak of 21 consecutive wins against conference opposition at home that spanned from November 2017 to this past weekend. Utica was not swept by any of their conference opponents in the season series this year.
Defensively, Utica tied a school best mark in goals allowed with 55 against, and posted a school-record five shutouts. They place currently in the top ten nationally in scoring offense and defense.
The Pioneers had five players selected to the All-UCHC teams. Forward Gregg Burmaster (Clinton, NY/Colorado College (NCHC)) and goaltender Gianluca Baggetta (Maple, Ontario/North York (OJHL)) were named First Team All-UCHC, defenseman Zach Borsoi (Brossard, Quebec/Gloucester (CCHL)) was named Second Team All-UCHC, and forward Regen Cavanagh (Chesapeake, VA/Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)) and defenseman Justin Allen (Rochester, NY/Rochester Monarchs (USPHL-NCDC)) were named to the All-Rookie Team. Burmaster and defenseman Daniel Fritz (Harwood, MD/Canisius College (Atlantic Hockey)) were also named to the All-Tournament teams for their performances in the postseason.
Gregg Burmaster (Clinton, NY/Colorado College (NCHC)) posted one of the most prolific statistical seasons by a Utica forward in the history of the program as he tied Jimmy Sokol’s 14-year-old school record in total points with 46 and had the most points by a UC senior in one season. Burmaster is in rare company alongside Sokol, who was named an All-American and is presently the only UC men’s hockey player in the Pioneer Hall of Fame. He had 20 goals and 26 assists in his final collegiate campaign for the third most assists and second most goals in a single season at Utica. He was named First Team All-UCHC and to the UCHC All-Tournament team after posting nine points in the postseason. He made the All-Tournament team in both of his seasons at Utica. He was third in conference play with 1.61 points per game, and second in goal scoring per conference game at 0.89 tallies per contest. In all games overall, he leads all UCHC players with 1.59 points per game and was second in goals and assists. He was seventh nationally in points per game, and fourteenth in goals per game. He wrapped his career on an eight game point streak and scored two hat tricks in consecutive games. He was a multiple time UCHC Player of the Week. He is at or near the top ten for career goals, assists, and points in a Pioneer uniform after playing just two seasons in blue and orange.
Baggetta had the greatest statistical season by a Utica College goaltender in the 18 year history of the program, and had to overcome some early season hurdles to do it. The UCHC Goaltender of the Year and First Team All-UCHC pick became the unexpected game one starter against Adrian with the team’s incumbent starter out of action. He was injured late in the third period of that game, and missed the team’s next four games. When he returned to action with a shutout on the road against Elmira, the junior left no doubt that he would deliver the rest of the way.
After his third loss of the year to No. 1 UW-Stevens Point, Baggetta went on a record-setting tear unlike anything seen before at Utica in the school’s rich goaltending tradition. He went undefeated in a school-best 16 straight starts to post a 16-4-2 overall record, and was 10-1-1 in conference play for the second best conference win percentage by a starter in program history. He set new Utica standards for a starting goaltender in save percentage at 94.1 percent, and goals against average at 1.76 goals against per game. His conference game save percentage of 95.3 percent was the best by a UCHC or ECAC West goaltender since Elmira goaltender Darren McDonald’s All-American season in 2010-11. Baggetta was fourth nationally in save percentage and tenth in goals against average. He would be just outside the top 25 all-time in Division III save percentage for a single season, and his 93.7 percent career save percentage would currently be in the top ten in Division III history.
Borsoi was named a second team All-Conference pick and will forever be known as one of Utica’s great ironmen in his career. Borsoi missed one game his entire career and skated in a school-record 110 games played. He was third on the team with twenty six points on nine goals and seventeen assists, and tied for the second best offensive season by a defenseman in school history. He had a team-best five power play goals this year. He finishes with 63 career points.
Allen and Cavanagh were named to the All-Rookie team for their impressive rookie campaigns in blue and orange. Allen’s thirteen points at the blue line are the most by a Utica freshman defenseman since All-American Dalton Carter’s (Toledo, OH/Northern Cyclones (EHL)) rookie year. Nine of his thirteen points came in conference play. Cavanagh notched eight goals and six assists for fourteen points in an injury-shortened season.
Daniel Fritz (Harwood, MD/Canisius College (Atlantic Hockey)) finished mere votes off the pace for all-conference recognition as the next best vote-getter among defensemen, and was named to the All-Tournament team as a junior. Fritz was tied with Borsoi for the second most points by a UC defenseman in one season with 26, and his 22 assists are the second most by a Pioneer blue liner in the history of the program for one campaign. He has 43 points in just 55 games. He was named to the All-Tournament team for his performance in all four tournament games as he had at least one point in each one. He had a pair of assists in the championship series, and had two goals and two assists in the semifinals, including the overtime game-winner to win the series against Nazareth. He scored both of his playoff goals in the series clincher. Fritz was on the ice for all three of Utica’s playoff game-winning goals.
Also worthy of special mention are senior forwards Shawn Lynch (Syracuse, NY/Ottawa Jr. Senators (CCHL)) and Justin Derlago (Winnipeg, Manitoba/Selkirk (MJHL)). Lynch had an explosive senior season, dominating the stretch run to ultimately put up 27 of his 43 career points, and eleven of his nineteen career goals as a senior while contributing mainly as the team’s top line centerman. 21 of his 27 points came in conference games.
Justin Derlago (Winnipeg, Manitoba/Selkirk (MJHL)) appeared in six games before a battle with chronic injury led him to discontinue his playing career. After appearing in his final game at the 2018 New York Sash Teddy Bear Toss, he joined the staff of head coach Gary Heenan as a student assistant coach. The nephew of NHL star Bill Derlago finishes with 35 career points and will inevitably attend at least one Winnipeg Jets playoff game this year.
Utica’s four-member senior class finishes with the best four-year record by any senior class in the history of the program at 73-31-7. That surpasses the 69-30-8 mark posted by the class of 2014 that went to the NCAA Division III semifinals as juniors in both total wins and winning percentage. The Utica seniors become the first players in school history other than five-year rostered player Mikhail Bushinski (St. Paul, MN/Kenai River (NAHL)) to be part of four conference championship game runs. The team was also an impressive 41-12-3 during Burmaster’s two year run in Utica.
Other highlights the program accomplished this season include playing their first games west of Lake Michigan, and head coach Gary Heenan’s 250th career win. Heenan now has 265 career wins at Utica and is the thirteenth winningest active Division III coach with those victories as he caught Wisconsin-Stout’s Terry Watkins this past weekend. He is now the 34th winningest coach in Division III history after surpassing seven coaches this season.
As first-team All-Conference selections, Burmaster and Baggetta will have the opportunity to hear their name called as prospective All-Americans in a few weeks’ time, and Borsoi could also step into that conversation as a second team All-UCHC selection.