Utica to host Division Three men’s ice hockey playoffs in 2026

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Photo: UC Pioneers

Matthew Breault, Assistant Sports Editor

Utica College is set to host the 2026 NCAA Division III Men’s Hockey Championships at Adirondack Bank Center. This will mark the second time in school history that Utica College has hosted the championships, as they previously did in 2017.

Formerly known as the Utica Memorial Auditorium, the Adirondack Bank Center is a fan favorite, as well as one of the top ice-hockey rinks in Division III, according to United States College Hockey Online.

Director of Physical Education and Athletics David Fontaine said he is happy to have the Adirondack Bank Center host the championships once again.

“The Adirondack Bank Center is one of the best venues in college hockey and in 2017 when we hosted the national championship, the NCAA committee was able to witness it first hand,” Fontaine said. “Our relationship with the staff at the Adirondack Bank Center has been exceptional and we are pleased they have agreed to partner with us to host the championship.”

Graduate student and Women’s Golf Captain Miranda Cuda said although this will be great for Utica, it is unfortunate the event doesn’t occur until 2026.

“I was excited when I first read the news, that’s a great opportunity for Utica,” Cuda said. “But after looking at it I felt kind of bummed out for everyone that goes to school currently.”

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on most aspects of life, this announcement gives UC something to anticipate in the future, according to Utica College Men’s Hockey Sophomore John Moncovich.

“This announcement is huge for the community and the school because it gets everyone excited for the future,” Moncovich said. “The city of Utica has something to look forward to and now that Utica College is a returning host, it proves how successful and professional they were the first time they hosted the tournament.”

Utica College hockey has always drawn in a big crowd year in and year out as they have led NCAA Division III Men’s Hockey attendance for 14 consecutive seasons, according to U.S. College Hockey Online. 

“We have the best fans in all of Division III hockey and the guys on the team love playing in front of them,” Moncovich said. “The fans’ energy drives the players to be at our best night in and night out. The players know the fans here will hold them accountable if we don’t play up to the standard that is set, but that makes playing at home so much more special.”

This event will allow the fans to possibly see their own team play at home, as well as possibly benefiting the Utica College community since this event will receive national attention.

“If UC is in the tournament, then it will absolutely benefit the UC community,” Cuda said. “If Utica isn’t in the tournament then I think it would just benefit the auditorium and the city of Utica, but we won’t really know until 2026.”

Whether or not the tournament benefits the Utica College community, it will give Utica the national recognition that some believe it deserves.

“This will be a great opportunity to showcase the city of Utica while bringing fans from across the country to witness the best for Division III ice hockey,” Fontaine said. “What will make this even better is if our men’s team is one of the four teams competing for the national title on our home ice.”


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