Pioneer Power: Utica University Hockey, Hoops Having Historic Seasons
Utica University athletics have a huge weekend ahead as the men's basketball team is primed to play in the program's first Division III NCAA Tournament game in 17 years, and both the men's and women's hockey teams are playing for conference tournament titles.
The men's basketball team enters the field of 64 at 22-4 and will take on Babson in opening round action Friday at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ.
A dominant 17-1 regular season run through the Empire 8 earned the Pioneers a top-seed in the conference tournament, however, Utica would be upset by No.4 seed St. John Fischer in the semifinals. The Cardinals were also responsible for Utica's regular season conference loss, as the teams split their two meetings - and would go on to win the E-8 tournament. Fischer is playing in NCAA Tournament action on Friday, as well.
Babson - in Wellesley, MA - posted a 19-8 overall record this season, playing in New England's NEWMAC conference. Tip time for Pioneers vs Bears game is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.
On the ice, with a chance to host NCAA Tournament games, Utica men's hockey remains unbeaten since a pair of opening-season losses to the former No.1 team in the country - Adrian. However, the Pioneers (24-2-1) now are now the nation's No.1 ranked team in all of D3 hockey for the first time in history and will to host the United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC) Tournament Championship on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at the Adirondack Bank Center, facing No.2 Nazareth.
The Utica women will also skate in the UCHC Championship on Saturday, playing at host Nazareth. In two matchups this season, the Pioneer women played to a tie and an overtime loss to Golden Flyers - who are ranked 13th overall in the country. The Pioneer women are ranked No.12 nationally. The puck drops at 4:00 p.m. Saturday.