Big Men’s and Women’s Pioneers Hockey Playoffs On Ice This Saturday in Utica
The #1 Division III men's hockey team, and the #12 Division III women's hockey team in all of America will both be playing at home in the playoffs this Saturday.
This week, both the men and women won in the UCHC quarterfinals earning the opportunity to advance to the semi-final round on Saturday at the Adirondack Bank complex. Utica's women beat #7 seed Lebanon Valley 4-0, and the men defeated the 8th seed, Arcadia 5-2, and now both teams will face Manhattanville on Saturday.
In the men's game on Wednesday, the Pioneers were playing Arcadia for the third time in just over a week. Utica blasted the new program from Pennsylvania by a 7-1 score both last Friday and Saturday nights. On Wednesday, Utica was facing Arcadia for a third time and for just a little while, things became difficult for the Pioneers. The teams skated to a 1-1 tie in the first period and when the teams returned to the ice for period two, Arcadia scored quickly and took a 2-1 lead over the country's top team. Fortunately for the home team, that lead was short-lived. Utica would go on to score four unanswered goals to defeat the challenger by a final score of 5-2.
The UCHC playoffs get underway at 3 PM on Saturday when the Utica women face-off in their new home facility, The Nexus Center against Manhattanville. Tickets are still available for the game. The Pioneers are 2-0 against Manhattanville this year, beating them both times they played in January.
Later on Saturday night at 7, the Utica men's hockey team will also face-off against Manhattanville at the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Aud. Utica played the Valients twice in early January in Purchase, NY, and won the first game, 3-0. The second game was more competitive but Utica still came out on top by a score of 5-4. So far this season, Utica is 20-0-0 against teams in their conference. Tickets are still available for this weekend's games.
If Utica's women win on Saturday, they will advance to the UCHC finals which could be played back in Utica next Saturday, March 4th. That will depend on whether top seed Nazareth College defeats Chatham University on Saturday afternoon. If Nazareth wins, and Utica advances, the game will be played on the road. If Chatham wins and Utica advances, the championship game will be played in Utica at the Nexus Center. Utica is seeded 2nd, behind Nazareth.
If the Utica men win, they are the top seed so their championship game will be held back at the Adirondack Bank Center next Saturday, most likely at 7PM. The Utica Comets are on the road for the next week and will be playing at home next Friday and Sunday, leaving room for a Pioneers championship game.
The winner of both the men's and women's UCHC conference tournament receives an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament, which begins on March 11th.