Ice Knights reach Frozen Four, fall to St. Norbert

The Geneseo Ice Knights’ best season in program history came to a close on March 21 with a 6-2 loss to the St. Norbert College Green Knights in the national semifinal game. The Ice Knights traveled to Lewiston, Maine for their first Frozen Four appearance in school history and played one of their more complete games of the season.

In this game, however, the puck luck that benefited the Ice Knights throughout the postseason went against them, allowing the top-ranked Green Knights to pull away in the second half of the game.

In the first period, Geneseo put up 14 shots and consistently controlled play in the St. Norbert zone. Nevertheless, this was not enough, as the teams headed into intermission with the Green Knights holding a 1-0 lead.

Time and time again, Geneseo was a slow starting team for most of the season, and this was exactly the first period it wanted.

St. Norbert, the national champion in two of the last three seasons, increased the deficit to two just three minutes into the second period, making the Ice Knights’ task that much more difficult.

Just a minute later, first-year defenseman Cam Hampson tallied Geneseo’s first goal to make the game 2-1. The Ice Knights, who had 15 come-from-behind wins on the season, showed signs of life.

Later in the period, junior forward Justin Scharfe tied the game, 2-2, to give Geneseo a fighting chance.

A controversial disqualification of junior forward Zach Martin, however, killed any momentum the Knights had.

The Ice Knights killed off the penalty, a St. Norbert trip negating the final two minutes, but their momentum was gone.

Then, a fluke goal that underwent review by the referee tallied the eventual game winner and put St. Norbert on its way to the finals with a 6-2 victory.

Despite the loss, this was an historic season for Geneseo hockey. The Ice Knights not only made it to their first Frozen Four, but they also won two games in the conference tournament, the school’s first ever wins in tournament play. It was only their fourth appearance in the tournament in the history of the program and first since 2006.

The Ice Knights also earned national accolades. Head coach Chris Schultz was named National Coach of the Year, in addition to winning SUNYAC Coach of the Year honors for the third time in four years.

Senior Zachary Vit was named first-team All-American, the fifth Ice Knight ever named to the team and first since current assistant coach Mitch Stephens earned the honor in 2006.

The season marks a huge step forward for the program, not only in terms of recruiting but also in terms of what Schultz is building at Geneseo. For years, SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Oswego have owned the SUNYAC, with Geneseo knocking on the door.

“I couldn’t ask for a more rewarding season to cap off my time here at Geneseo,” senior co-captain Carson Schell said. “The moments we shared as a team and the support from the students and community combined to create an experience I will never replicate.”

This is the year the Ice Knights pushed the door open, and with much of the core returning next year, it is Geneseo’s opportunity to cement a winning culture and tradition.