CORTLAND, N.Y. – The SUNY Geneseo men's ice hockey and women's basketball teams have been named recipients of the 2016 State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Award of Valor. Presented annually to individuals for their ability to overcome obstacles and serve as an inspiration to others, the recipients are recognized for exhibiting perseverance, dedication and determination to overcome a life-altering event.
The two teams will be recognized and honored at the SUNYAC Awards Banquet on May 16 at the Holiday Inn, Liverpool.
On the morning of January 17, 2016, an unspeakable tragedy unfolded in Geneseo, N.Y. which resulted in Geneseo senior men's ice hockey player Matt Hutchinson and senior women's basketball player Kelsey Annese losing their lives during an apparent double murder/suicide.
While neither was considered the star of their respective teams, the legacies they left behind can be measured more by the intangible influences they had more than any goals or points. A consummate "locker room" guy for his teammates, Hutchinson's quick wit and sense of humor were the glue that bound his fellow Knights together on and off the ice. The North Vancouver, British Columbia native also served as a volunteer firefighter for his adopted community of Geneseo, N.Y. with aspirations of pursuing a career in the field after graduation.
Annese walked on to the team prior to the 2013-14 season for her sophomore campaign. While her career in a Geneseo uniform consisted mainly of serving as a back-up point guard, she was quickly adopted by her new family none the less. After two seasons, Annese's teammates showed their regard for her leadership ability as well as the impact she had by elevating her to the role of team captain prior to the start of her senior campaign.
In the days following the events of January 17th, the Geneseo men's ice hockey and women's basketball teams had several choices to make in regard to the rest of their seasons. Choosing to honor the memories of their lost teammates by continuing on with their seasons, their efforts proved nothing short of inspiring.
The women's basketball team won 12 of its next 14 games, including five-straight contests, following Kelsey's death. Clinching the number-two seed for the SUNYAC Tournament, Geneseo played its way to its fourth-consecutive championship game before receiving an at-large bid to its second-straight NCAA Division III Tournament appearance. Squaring off in the first round opposite FDU-Florham, which had knocked the Knights out of the 2015 NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16, Geneseo turned the tables with a 51-45 victory to advance to the second round for only the third time in 20 years.
The men's ice hockey team went 10-1-3 in its next 14 games, winning its first SUNYAC Championship in 10 years and advancing to the NCAA Division III Tournament Frozen Four for the second time in three seasons. In three SUNYAC Tournament games, the Knights out-scored their opponents by a conference-record 17-3 margin, including a 7-1 victory at top-seeded Plattsburgh in the championship game. After NCAA Tournament wins over Salve Regina, 7-1, and Williams, 2-1, the storybook run came to a close against eventual national champion Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the national semifinals, which were played at historic Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y.