The season is winding down for college club hockey, with the American Collegiate Hockey Association and National Collegiate Hockey Association preparing to host their respective national championship tournaments in early March.
The ACHA’s Division 1 tournament and NCHA tournament will both be in Ohio, both beginning March 4. The ACHA Division 1 national championship will be hosted at OBM Arena in Strongsville, located just a few miles southwest of Cleveland. The NCHA tournament, meanwhile, will be held at the Lou & Gib Reese Ice Arena in Newark, Ohio, located about 20 miles east of Columbus.
The ACHA’s national championship tournament will be the larger of the two, running for an entire week, from March 4 to 10. In all, 20 teams will participate, though as of mid-February the participants were not yet finalized.
The University at Buffalo’s ACHA Division 1 team was best positioned among local schools to punch their ticket to the club hockey “dance,” holding first place firmly in the ACHA-affiliated Northeast Collegiate Hockey League with a record of 25-6 plus one shootout loss (51 points). UB was also ranked ninth overall in the entire ACHA.
Niagara University sat in third, behind UB and Syracuse, with a record 17-5 plus an overtime loss (35 points) but played nine fewer games than UB to that point. Their last regular season game played was a 19-1 blowout win over St. Bonaventure University.
Canisius was just four points behind Niagara in the NECHL standings with a record of 15-16 and one shootout loss in 32 games played.
The ACHA’s Division 2 tournament will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, but no local clubs are scheduled to appear. In the ACHA’s Division 3, one Western New York team plays in the league, Fredonia State, but was not in contention to appear at the national tournament in Pelham, Alabama at press time.
UB was also vying for a chance to appear in the NCHA’s national championship tourney, which will feature six contenders. Through mid-February, UB’s NCHA team had a record of 12-4, including a four-game winning streak and eight wins in their previous ten games. Sitting in second place in the Upstate New York Collegiate Hockey League’s West Division, the Bulls looked to be just outside looking in but final seedings were not yet set by the NCHA.
The NCHA national championship will run from March 4 to March 7.
FIRST THINGS FIRST FOR THE BULLS
Before packing their bags for Ohio and the ACHA tourney, the Bulls were preparing for the task of running through the NECHL playoffs. They were scheduled to face Oswego followed by Syracuse and then a third opponent to be determined, based on their performances in the first two games. Both games were scheduled for the road.
Bobby Piotrowicz, Brenden Robinson and Michael Schalberg shared UB’s lead for goasls scored with 16 apiece. With 26 assists as well, Piotrowicz led the team in overall scoring with 42 points. Robinson was second with 40 points and Schalberg in third with 37 points. Schalberg led the team in power play goals with five.
Tyler Stark and Dylan Arnold shared most of the time defending the UB net, with Stark posting a 12-4 record (2.31 goals against average and .927 save percentage) and Arnold recording a 10-2 record (1.37 gaa, .956 save pct.). Arnold also posted four shutouts while Stark had one.
Maxwell Barone has appeared in five games for UB this season, posting a 3-0 record and has one stat the other goalies do not: an assist.
Our women’s hockey correspondent, Janet Schultz, includes coverage of women’s college club hockey in her monthly column found elsewhere in this edition.
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More information about the local club teams competing under the ACHA can be found at achahockey.org. You can follow the NCHA at ncha.us.