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New York Division III Hockey – Strongest Season Ever?


By Warren Kozireski —

With four teams ranked in the top six in the nation in the USCHO poll, two more between six and 12 and two receiving votes this could collectively be the best season college Division III teams in New York State have ever had.

Sure, some New York-based programs have won national championships, advanced to the final four and made the NCAA playoffs, but it is hard to remember this many strong teams in the same season.

Defending national champion Hobart is again atop the national poll with a 23-2-1 record entering their NEHC semifinal playoff game against Southern Maine. Tanner Hartman and Ignat Belov combined for 76 points  with both in the top-ten nationally in points per game. The Statesmen also lead the national allowing less than one goal per game.

Second-ranked Utica won their seventh consecutive UCHC regular season title this time with a semi-perfect 20-0-1 conference record and 20-2-3 overall. The Pioneers stand third in the nation in goals allowed with the goaltender tandem of junior Bryan Landsberger and freshman Ethan Roberts. They advanced to the conference semi-finals with a win over Nazareth in the first round.

Geneseo is slotted fourth in the country led by sophomore Adam Damaski’s 19 goals (fifth in the nation) and won their fifth SUNYAC regular season crown over the past ten seasons with a 21-4-0 regular season. They host a semi-final playoff game Sat. 2/24.

SUNYAC rival Plattsburgh is sixth nationally at 19-4-2 and12-3-1 in the conference to finish third in the SUNYAC behind junior goaltender Jacob Hearne’s 1.74 goals against average. They defeated Potsdam in overtime in the first round of the postseason.

Eighth is Elmira with a bounce-back 19-6-1 overall record with all six losses coming in NEHC action. Seniors Nicholas Domitrovic and Janis Vizbelis are in the top 20 nationally in points per game. They squeaked out a 3-2 overtime victory against Babson in the quarterfinals to earn a semifinal date with 12th ranked nationally Skidmore.

The Thoroughbreds finished 18-6-2 behind NEHC Goaltender of the Year Tate Brandon and advanced to the semifinals for the third consecutive season. They hosted a playoff game for the first time since 2012.

Oswego and Hamilton College both are receiving votes. The Lakers finished second in SUNYAC with a 12-4-0 record with the second leading goal scorer in the nation in Shane Bull but struggled against non-conference opponents with four more losses. The Continentals, behind freshman Luke Tchor’s 32 points (13th in the nation) ride a three-game winning streak into the postseason and host Amherst in the NESCAC quarterfinals.

After the nine automatic berths are handed out to conference champions, four additional teams will be awarded at-large selections to the upcoming NCAA Tournament. It may take more than one hand to count how many call New York State home.