The Pioneers were second in the previous poll.
The new United States College Hockey Online (USCHO) men’s Division III national poll was announced on Monday, and the Utica College Pioneers are now ranked third in the nation. In the previous week’s poll, they were at number two.
The Pioneers compiled one win and one loss this week. This past weekend they hosted the Thanksgiving Showcase, a four-team tournament that also included the UMass Boston Beacons, Amherst Mammoths, and the number one ranked team in Division III – the Geneseo Knights.
Utica College advanced to the final of the tournament by defeating Amherst 3-0 in the opening round. The game featured two significant milestones as senior goaltender Sean Dickson recorded his eighth career shutout, establishing a new school record in that category. The win was also Utica College coach Gary Heenan’s 305th of his illustrious coaching career. With the victory, he passed his former coach at Hamilton College Phil Grady for sixty-second on the all-time NCAA college hockey coaching victories list.
The championship game pitted then number two ranked Utica College against number one Geneseo, who defeated UMass Boston 6-2 to punch their ticket to the final. The game was just as close as can be expected when the top two teams in the nation meet, with Geneseo carrying a 1-0 lead late into the third period. The Knights were able to get two empty-net goals in the closing minutes to win the game 3-0 and hang on to the number one ranking in the USCHO poll. Geneseo now has an overall record of 8-0-1 while Utica College has a 7-2-0 mark. Both of Utica College’s losses have come against teams ranked in the top five of the USCHO poll (Adrian was ranked fifth when they beat the Pioneers on Halloween day).
The top five of the current USCHO men’s Division III poll is as follows:
- #1 Geneseo (eighteen first place votes)
- #2 Adrian (two first place votes)
- #3 Utica College
- #4 Augsburg
- #5 Hobart
The Pioneers will remain in Utica for two games against UCHC opponents. On Friday night, they take on the Wilkes Colonels, who are ranked eleventh in the current USCHO poll with an 8-0-0 overall and 4-0-0 UCHC record. The following night Utica College faces the King’s College Monarchs who currently have a 2-7-0 overall record and are 1-3-0 in the UCHC. To go with their 7-2-0 record, Utica College has a 4-0-0 UCHC mark.