UTICA, N.Y. - For the 14th straight year, the Utica College men's ice hockey team is atop the nation for attendance among the NCAA Division III ranks.
The Pioneers played 17 home games at the Adirondack Bank Center in the 2019-20 season, averaging 3,394 fans per game. Oswego State was the second most-attended Division III program at 2,073, a difference of more than 1,200 fans.
UC sold a total of 57,703 tickets overall for home games throughout the season, and their average attendance topped longtime Division I powerhouse Boston University. The Pioneers rank 22nd in the country throughout all levels of NCAA hockey.
"Our first year I think we averaged 400-500 [fans] a night and gradually it [went up]," said Pioneers head coach Gary Heenan via a Zoom video interview with NEWSChannel 2. "To think about where we started and now knowing it's an automatic that there are going to be 2500-3000 every night and our marquee games, playoff games and the teddy bear toss game, are going to be sold out, it's just a special place to play. It's pretty remarkable."
Utica finished the season at 25-2-2 overall, 14-1-2 at home, finishing the season on a nationwide-high 20-game winning streak.
The team captured its second conference tournament title in the last three years, its fourth straight conference regular season title and nabbed the top overall seed in the 2020 NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Championship tournament, which ended up being cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pioneers were ranked No. 3 in the final national online poll.