SUNY-Geneseo men's hockey looking to return to Final Four against Williams
Compared to Williams College, SUNY-Geneseo could almost be considered a regular in the NCAA Division III Hockey Tournament.
The Knights (19-4-6) from outside of Rochester are making their fifth appearance in the Division III tournament, while the Ephs (19-5-2) are in their first-ever trip.
The two teams will play in an Elite Eight matchup on Saturday at 7 p.m., in Geneseo's Wilson Ice Arena. The winner advances to the NCAA Division III semifinals next week at the Herb Brooks Ice Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Geneseo's last trip to the Final Four came in 2014, when the Knights lost to eventual champion St. Norbert.
"As a hockey player, you work with your team all year and you want to be in this position by the end of the season," Geneseo captain Ryan Donnelly said in a phone interview. "To know that you've done the right things and have played well enough to get to this spot is special. It's a great opportunity."
Nobody knows that more than Geneseo head coach Chris Schultz, who guided the Knights to the Final Four two seasons ago. Schultz was the Division III national coach of the year that season.
Not only is this Schultz's first, and only, college head coaching job, but the 10-year veteran also has a SUNY-Geneseo diploma hanging from his wall.
"I've been really blessed to be where I am right now," Schultz said in a phone interview. "For eight years out of Geneseo, I was a teacher and a coach at the high school level. When this job came open, I really had no intention of taking it. I had a number of alumni who wanted me to take it. The next thing you know, I was hired."
When one looks at both teams, one sees a Williams team that has scored 76 goals, with seven players netting six or more. The Knights have a line that can put the puck in the net with the best of them.
Freshman Anthony Marra centers Stephen Collins and Trevor Hills. The line has combined for 53 goals and 70 assists.
"They've got a very unusual way of playing the game. They just know where each other are on the ice all the time. You just don't get that very often," said Schultz. "We're really trying to enjoy it while we have it.
"Everything they do, it's not something we teach them. They just instantly had chemistry at the start of the year."
This is a rematch of a regular-season game played in Williamstown the Saturday after Thanksgiving. That night, Geneseo scored a 3-0 win as freshman goalie Devin McDonald outdueled Williams senior goalie Noah Klag. McDonald had 23 saves including 10 in the third period.
"I know the score was 3-0, but it really wasn't a 3-0 game. It was a close game the entire game," said Schultz.
It was also Geneseo's eighth game of the year, compared to Willliams' third.
"I like the way they play," Schultz said of Williams. "I like their system. I like how they compete. Everything they do is structured.
"I know they're going to be ready for us with the way they play."
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.