Parts of this article and photo are courtesy of Hobart College Athletics Communication. Read the original here.
GENEVA, N.Y. – Hobart College will square off against SUNY Geneseo in the first round of the NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Championship. The Statesmen earned the New England Hockey Conference's (NEHC) automatic bid and will host the first-round game at The Cooler on Saturday, March 10 at 7 p.m. The team was ranked third in the east region in the final published NCAA regional rankings.
Seven teams earned automatic bids by winning their conference championship, while five others were awarded at-large selections. This is the first year Hobart has earned an automatic bid to the tournament.
The Statesmen (18-5-5) will be making their eighth overall and fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance. Hobart captured the NEHC Tournament title in its inaugural season in the league with a 3-0 win at top-seeded and defending NCAA Division III National Champions, Norwich University, on Saturday.
Junior Jonas Toupal leads the Statesmen with 31 points on 15 goals and 16 assists. Sophomore Lawson MacDougall has dished out a team-high 20 assists and added five goals for 25 points.
Senior Frank Oplinger has reeled off three straight playoff victories in net for the Statesmen. The senior netminder was a force in the NEHC Championship tilt as he made 30 saves (11 in the third period) to shutout a potent Norwich offense and earn him Most Valuable Player honors of the Championship.
Geneseo brings a 19-5-3 overall record to the tournament. The Knights topped Fredonia 7-1 to win the SUNYAC Tournament Championship. Conlan Keenan leads the team with 39 points on 18 goals and 21 assists. Tyson Empey has logged a team-high 21 goals and 15 assists for 36 points, while Andrew Romano has six goals and a team-high 30 assists for 36 points. Devin McDonald has played the majority of minutes in goal and has a 1.78 goals against average, a .926 save percentage and an 18-3-3 record.
Geneseo and Hobart have met 69 times in a series that dates back to 1978. The Knights hold a 39-27-3 advantage in the series. However, the Statesmen have won the past three meetings. The teams last met on Jan. 24, 2017, when Hobart earned a 3-2 victory in Geneseo, N.Y.
The championship playoff format involves four first-round games and four quarterfinal games that are played on the campuses of the participating institutions. All games in the championship are single elimination. The four quarterfinal winners will advance to Lake Placid, New York, at the 1980 Herb Brooks Ice Arena for the semifinal and championship games, which will be conducted March 23-24. Plattsburgh State University of New York and the Olympic Regional Development Authority will host the championship.