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2024 NCAA Division 3 Championship: Hobart Defeats Trinity


The 2024 Division III (D3) Men’s Frozen Four Semifinal matchups occurred on March 21 and 23 at the Koeppel Community Sports Center in Hartford, Connecticut. The Trinity College Bantams took on the Adrian College Bulldogs and the Hobart College Statesmen took on the Utica University Pioneers.

How Did Hobart and Trinity Reach the Tournament?

Entering the week, the predetermined hosts, Trinity College, began the playoffs as the #2 seed and earned their way into a quarterfinal matchup against Elmira College, where they won 2-0. They had a 24-3-1 record this regular season and came out as the winners of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). They were led by head coach Matthew Greason, who won the NESCAC Coach of the Year award. He was previously an assistant coach for the United States National Team Development Program U-17 and U-18 National Teams. In addition to hockey, he serves as director of golf for the school after stepping down as head men’s golf coach last spring.

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Trinity had the National Player of the Year and NESCAC Player of the Year, sophomore goaltender Devon Bobak, who posted shutouts in the NESCAC championship against Tufts University and the quarterfinal matchup against Elmire. He posted 63 consecutive saves over the two games. Trinity also had NESCAC defenseman player of the year Ned Blanchard, four NESCAC first-team players, and one NESCAC second-team player. Trinity previously won the 2015 NCAA Men’s D3 Hockey Championship and finished as runner-up in 2017.

Related: Denver Pioneers Defeat Omaha Mavericks in Frozen Faceoff

Hobart College, the #1 ranked seed and champions, narrowly advanced to the semifinals thanks to Bauer Morrissey’s goal with 4:43 to go in quadruple overtime against Curry College in the quarterfinal. This was their 37th consecutive home win, an NCAA D3 record. The #3 seed was determined in a St. Norbert College vs. Adrian College matchup, which Adrian won 5-3. Utica University won the #4 seed in a 4-1 victory over Plymouth State University.

Semifinal Games

The opening of the two Mar. 21 matchups was Hobart against Utica, which Hobart won with a score of 3-1. Hobart started the game hot, with a goal just 52 seconds in by senior defenseman Austin Mourar. A shot from the point found its way through the screens for a goal Utica wishes they could have back. Hobart continued to dominate through the first with a great passing play and deke by sophomore winger Tanner Hartman.

Hobart Statesmen Trinity College 2024 NCAA D3 Championship
Hobart Statesmen Trinity College 2024 NCAA D3 Championship (Photo Credit: Kevin Colton)

The first period saw no penalties but was followed by a second period with quite a few. Neither team capitalized on any of their chances, but Utica saw their lone goal come just around the game’s halfway mark. A wrist shot from the point was all that Hobart goaltender Damon Beaver let in. A game that could have gone either way resulted in heartbreak for the Pioneers, but they will likely be back in the Frozen Four with their young core.

Trinity taking on Adrian was a bloodbath until the end, with Trinity winning 2-1. Trinity took an early 1-0 lead courtesy of James Barbour’s goal 6:31 into the first period. Moments later, a scuffle in front of the Trinity net led to over five minutes of referee consultation. The referees made no signals after review, and the puck was dropped in the neutral zone. When asked about the situation, coach Greason jokingly told Michael Ostrower of The Hockey Writers, “You don’t want to know, Mike…there was a technical issue.” It was a confusing moment between the officials and the teams in a game that both teams still have questions about.

Senior forward Devon Tongue built on the lead with a give-and-go goal just over 90 seconds into the second period, and the rest of the game was a back-and-forth. Adrian scored their lone goal with 6:03 in the second period but had many opportunities to tie it.

Getting a powerplay with just over three minutes left in regulation, Adrian opted not to pull goaltender Dershawn Stewart, and this decision proved costly. When asked about this decision, Greason told Ostrower “he was a little surprised they didn’t.” With their season over, Adrian head coach Adam Krug will get to spend the summer questioning his decision.

National Championship Final

Hobart won the championship with a 2-0 shutout over Trinity, but it was much closer than that. It was a back-and-forth matchup the entire way, and either side could have come out on top. The first period was scoreless, with Hobart controlling play most of the way. They were bigger and faster to start and carried the momentum to multiple high-danger chances from around the net.

Hobart Statesmen 2024 NCAA D3 Championship
Hobart Statesmen 2024 NCAA D3 Championship (Photo Credit: Kevin Colton)

The second period was a more even match, with Trinity outplaying most of the way. They never got close to the net but had multiple strong looks from the hash marks. In the final few minutes of the period, Hobart took control, with their one goal coming on a beautiful passing play from Luke Aquaro with just over a minute to go. Despite the intermission, they continued pushing, coming within inches of another goal. Finally, with 25 seconds to go, they scored an empty netter, sealing the deal.

It was a great weekend of hockey in Hartford, with the reigning champions taking home another title. Each of the three games came down to the wire, and any of the four teams could have come out on top. With Hobart consisting of many seniors, seeing how they retool heading into the summer will be interesting.

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