LEWISTON — Any senior in college doing anything for the final time is bound to wax nostalgic.

Hockey players in Division III are no different, particularly when their final competitive game — perhaps ever — is on the grandest stage of all.

For 17 players this weekend, this is their final kick at the can in Division III. Statistically, it is likely also their final chance to play competitive hockey. Only two players currently in the National Hockey League are Division III college alumni.

“It’s something you try not to think about too much, especially toward the end of the year, that it might be the last time playing any competitive hockey,” Geneseo senior Zach Vit said, “but it’s definitely on everyone’s mind, especially the seniors.”

According to his coach, Vit may be on his way to play in a professional game or two following the season’s completion.

But like all of the seniors on the teams’ rosters, Vit and his three senior teammates aren’t looking too far ahead.

“We didn’t start out as only four. I think we had seven or eight as freshmen,” Vit said, “but we’re the ones who’ve made it through. We felt like we’ve made the most of our time here, but we certainly would like to do something memorable like win a national championship.”

“I think the seniors are doing a really good job of just enjoying the moment,” Schultz said. “It could be their last weekend of competition, and it will be for a few the guys. It’s been a long journey for them, and I’m just incredibly happy for them that they’re playing on the last possible weekend of the season.”

In most cases, seniors are the backbone of collegiate championship teams. But this year’s semifinalists are a collective aberation. Oswego State has but two seniors on its roster, compared to 14 a year ago when the Lakers advanced to a second consecutive national final. Geneseo has four.

St. Norbert, the No. 1 overall seed and top-ranked team for most of the season in major polls, has seven players in their fourth year. It’s an advantage, particularly with this group, which has known both the joy of victory in a national final and the agony of a home loss in an early round.

“When my seniors were freshmen, it was 2011, they were an integral part of a national championship run,” Coghlin said. “And in 2012, when our seniors were sophomores, we went back to back with a very young group, including a freshman goaltender named David Jacobson (this year’s national player of the year), and a bunch of new guys who are currently on the roster.

“Our seniors are now attending their third frozen four. They have tasted the bitterness of defeat,” Coghlin continued. “When we got beat at home last year (2-1 against eventual national champion Wisconsin-Eau Claire), and we didn’t make the frozen four with a team we felt had a strong roster, it’s a reality check. You get that quick shot of water in the face, and you think to yourself, ‘We’ve got to find a way to get back.’ This group has had that attitude from the get-go.”

As important as the seniors are to the teams this seaso, the fact that there are only 17 among the four teams means fans of Division III hockey might want to get used to seeing this group of four teams around for a few years.


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