Kevin Colton / HWS Photography

BCHL alumni help Hobart College capture second straight D3 national title

With a five-deep contingent of former British Columbia Hockey League players, the Hobart College Statesmen won their second straight NCAA Division III men’s hockey national championship in March.

On the road in Hartford, Connecticut, the Statesmen shut out host Trinity College 2-0 in the national championship game. Hobart College is the first back-to-back D3 national champ since St. Norbert in 2011 and 2012. The national championship victory was the Statesmen’s 14th straight win.

“The most rewarding aspect of winning consecutive national championships was the incredible support from our community — family, friends, and alumni — who supported us throughout the journey and a lot were able to make the trip to Trinity College,” said Hobart College forward and former BCHL player Kahlil Fontana. “It was also really special for our seniors to conclude their college careers on such a high note, particularly after missing a full season due to COVID-19.”

In addition to Fontana, Hobart College’s former BCHLers this season include Bauer Morrissey, Christopher Duclair, Cooper Swift, and Brandon Sacchetti. Swift served as the team’s captain. Fontana was in his second season, while the other three were first-year student-athletes who contributed to the championship.

Hobart College head coach Mark Taylor had nothing but good things to say about his team. “Great young men, teammates, and achievers on and off the ice. All above a 3.5-grade point average and (a) couple ringing the 4.0 bell.”

BCHL-developed talent

The Hobart College men’s hockey team has a history of recruiting from the BCHL. “The B.C. will always put out good players because of the level of the league, but better people make better great players, and these guys represent the league very well,” explained Taylor.

A Duncan, B.C. product, Fontana suited up in the BCHL with the Victoria Grizzlies, Cowichan Valley Capitals, and Coquitlam Express. “Playing in the BCHL was a lot of fun because of the high level of talent, skill, and speed. I valued the opportunity to meet and form lasting friendships with players from across the continent.”

“Being from British Columbia, I also appreciated the chance to travel and compete in different arenas across the province, with each game being highly competitive, especially against divisional rivals,” continued Fontana.

The ex-BCHL players and the rest of the Hobart College student body receive a unique experience at the Geneva, New York school. The private liberal arts college shares its campus with William Smith College.

Hobart College was originally founded as an all-male institution in 1822, and William Smith College started as an all-female college in 1908. Today, all classes at Hobart and William Smith are co-ed, and we share a combined campus,” said Fontana, who is majoring in Management and Entrepreneurship with a focus on innovation and leadership.

Fontana’s strong sophomore season

Fontana scored nine goals and recorded 12 assists for 21 points in 29 games this past season. He assisted on the game-winning goal in the fourth overtime session against Curry College in the NCAA Division III quarterfinals.

“He is a ‘hockey player’,” Taylor said. “He just gets the game and wins battles. He goes about things like a pro, the games, practice, weight room, and career.”

In his first season at Hobart College, Fontana posted two goals, five assists, and seven points. The environment at Hobart helped him triple his point total from when he was a rookie a year ago.

“The daily competition in our practice sessions, where my teammates constantly pushed each other to improve, helped me improve a ton,” Fontana said. “Additionally, gaining confidence in a league that was new to me last year and becoming more familiar with our team’s style and our opponents significantly enhanced my performance.”

Morrissey enjoys super rookie season

In his first season, Morrissey played a major role on the Statesmen’s backend. The defender was sixth on the team in scoring with 27 points, including five goals, in 27 games. He scored the game-winner in the fourth overtime session versus Curry College.

Taylor said the student-athlete has a great head and hands for the game. “One can immediately see that (skill and hockey sense), but internally he is a great determined competitor,” he said.

Morrissey was named the Hobart College squad’s Rookie of the Year and the New England Hockey Conference Rookie of the Year. He was also selected to the USCHO All-Rookie Team and NEHC All-Rookie Team.

Hailing from Skaneateles, New York, Morrissey spent two seasons in the BCHL developing his game. He was with the Cranbrook Bucks from 2021 to 2023.

Duclair lights the lamp

Duclair finished fourth on the Statesmen in goals with 15. The first-year scoring star led the team with seven powerplay goals and finished with 25 points in 27 games.

“Even the novice hockey person can see a major strength of Christopher’s is speed, but I would be selling him short to not add speed with power and grit and scoring threat,” Taylor said.

Duclair was selected to the NEHC All-Rookie Team. After scoring in all three of Hobart College’s NEHC tournament games he was also tabbed as a member of the NEHC All-Tournament Team.

Hailing from the Montreal, Quebec area, Duclair capped his junior career with a BCHL season. The forward suited up for the West Kelowna Warriors in 2022-23.

Sacchetti and Swift lead for the Statesmen

A forward from Montreal, Sacchetti averaged a point a game for Hobart College. He scored eight goals and recorded 13 points in as many games.

“(He) can flat-out score,” Taylor said. “Great offensive instincts with the skating to match. Super strong on his feet and deceptive speed.”

After playing the 2021-22 campaign in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, Sacchetti had a whirlwind campaign split between three teams. He spent time with the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials (seven games), Sherwood Park Crusaders of the AJHL (25 games), and the National Collegiate Development Conference’s Jersey Hitmen (19 games).

Swift was a major presence on the Hobart College blue line. The third-year student-athlete had two goals and 13 goals in 29 games. He finished third on the team in blocked shots with 25.

“Cooper Swift is one of the best subtle players I’ve coached at D1 or D3,” Taylor said. “He is five times as good as he appears. Super clean, efficient, and effective. Plays a ‘textbook’ defence.”

This past season Swift earned All-USCHO Honourable Mention honours. He won his school’s Joe Arnitz ’66 Memorial Sportsmanship Award. In his first two years, Swift earned AHCA All-American Scholar honours.

Swift played four games for the BCHL’s Langley Rivermen in 2019-20. He spent the rest of his junior career with the NCDC’s Jersey Hitmen and the North American Hockey League’s Maine Nordiques.