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St. Bonaventure University

No. 1 Bonnies headed with high hopes to AAU College Hockey National Tournament

Mar 08, 2023

Last year, St. Bonaventure advanced to the Collegiate Hockey Federation Cup tournament on a high, fresh off a dominating win over Buffalo State to win the Upstate New York Collegiate Hockey League championship.

This year, they head to the renamed AAU College Hockey National Tournament as the overall No. 1 seed, but instead with a bitter taste in their mouths.

AAU National Championship logoThe Bonnies (18-1-2) were upset in overtime by Niagara County Community College Feb. 18 in the second round of the UNYCHL tourney, depriving the team a chance to repeat as league champion.

Last year, the confidence they had entering the 32-team national tournament propelled the 15th-ranked Bonnies to the quarterfinals, highlighted by a 7-5 win over No. 2 Farmingdale to advance out of pool play.

This year, they hope the lesson learned from their loss to NCCC will push them even farther, hopefully to a national title. The Bonnies open pool play at 7 p.m. Friday vs. No. 32 High Point at West Chester, Pennsylvania.

The games can be livestreamed at Black Dog Hockey. Packages are available for four-hour increments ($9.99), all of pool play ($29.99), and the entire tournament ($49.99). Fans attending the tournament are encouraged to pre-order all-access passes here.

“Ultimately, I think we needed (to lose). I just wish it would have happened a week or two earlier because no one in the modern era had won back-to-back league titles,” said Jordan Farnham, ’16, head coach of the Bonnies. “Even though we outshot them, 58-30, we didn’t play up to our potential — and we also ran into a hot goalie.”

No one, however, was pointing fingers in the post-game team meeting, Farnham said.

“You could see their frustration, but they were just voicing their concerns and holding each other accountable,” Farnham said. “They essentially realized, ‘If we’re not going to play every game like we’re playing Niagara (University), then what are we doing?’”

Niagara, ranked No. 2 in the national tournament field, defeated NCCC, 9-1, for the UNYCHL title. In the regular season, however, SBU defeated Niagara twice, by a goal each time. The teams could square off in the national title game if they both win their first five games.

SBU plays Massachusetts Maritime Academy at 9 p.m. Saturday and No. 16 Georgia at 2:15 p.m. Sunday. St. Bonaventure and Georgia have already played this season, the Bulldogs handing the Bonnies one of only three blemishes on their record, a 1-1 tie in Olean on Oct. 1.

The team in each of the eight pools with the most points — teams earn two points for a win and one for a tie — will advance to the quarterfinals on Monday after three days of round-robin pool play. Ties for first in the pools will be broken by head-to-head results, then by fewest goals allowed and then, if still tied, by goal differential.

Quarterfinals, semifinals and title/consolation games are scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The potential to play six games in six days is a challenge, but the experience the Bonnies had last year advancing to the national quarterfinals should benefit the team this year.

“I think we learned a lot last year,” said Farnham, who was the assistant to Taylor Rosenberg during the 2021-22 season. (They’ve switched roles this season.) “From an emotional standpoint, we felt like we got a little too high after that Farmingdale win and had nothing left in the tank the next day (vs. Binghamton). We were very fatigued in that fourth game.

“We also played tougher competition this season to prepare for the tourney and changed the way we practiced this semester, working on some more conditioning to prepare for the grind. What it comes down to is how you recover in between games — are you eating the right things and getting enough sleep.”

Despite losing eight seniors to graduation last May, Farnham believes his club is even deeper this year.

“We lost some valuable core leadership, but guys like Brady Fitzpatrick, Aiden Jones, Owen Hughes and Sam Cichowski have done a really good job of keeping everyone together and maintaining that tight-knit brotherhood that’s been so important for us,” he said. “And we had a really good recruiting class, getting some talented freshmen who’ve made an impact right away.”

Michael Robertson (17 goals) has made the biggest impact of the freshmen skaters, teaming with sophomore league MVP Owen Hughes (25 goals) and junior Mason Meggo (18 goals), a first-team all-star, on a top line that’s tallied 129 points in just 21 games. But Farnham insists the Bonnies aren’t dominated by one line.

“Our depth is one big reason why we’ve been so good. We have so many guys who can play at such a high level, kids who haven’t been given the opportunity they might get elsewhere because we have so much talent,” Farnham said. “We have 15 kids who have 10-plus points. I’m not sure how many teams, outside of maybe Niagara or Tampa, that could say that.”

Farnham is hopeful freshman goalie Kyle Karoleski is able to shake off some nagging injuries. Named to the UNYCHL first-team all-stars, Karoleski was 12-1-2 with a 2.42 goals against average and a .914 save percentage.

“When he’s healthy, he’s arguably the best goalie (at this level) in the country,” Farnham said.


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. St. Bonaventure was named the #5 regional university value in the North in U.S. News and World Report’s 2022 college rankings edition.