UTICA, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – Utica University Athletic Director Dave Fontaine announced on Thursday, September 14 that the men’s and women’s hockey teams will be hosting their first-ever preseason skills competition to kick off their 2023-24 season.

The event will be held at the Utica University Nexus Center on Wednesday, September 27. It will feature popular events such as fastest skater, hardest shot, shooting accuracy, and breakaway challenges, all with entertaining twists.

“We’ve never done anything like this before, so our players are excited, and we hope our fans are equally excited,” women’s head coach Dave Clausen said in a statement.

The event will kick off the University’s Presidential Inauguration Week festivities, to welcome new Utica University president Dr. Todd Pfannestiel.

“We can’t wait to introduce this year’s team to our fans and celebrate the start to the season, and we’re really honored that President Pfannestiel has involved the hockey program and the local community in the activities around his inauguration,” men’s head coach Gary Heenan said in a statement. “There’s no doubt it’s going to be an entertaining night with some good competition and I’m sure some good laughs.”

The women’s team will start their season with their inaugural Kick-Off Tournament on Friday, October 27, and Saturday, October 28. The four-team tournament will feature four teams who finished the season nationally ranked: Utica, Elmira College, Suffolk and Adrian. The men will begin their season on Friday, October 20 with an exhibition against the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team. They will start their regular season on October 27 and 28 when they host a doubleheader with Adrian.

The men’s team also announced that they will play their first-ever games at the Nexus Center in 2024. They will play Manhattanville on Friday, January 5, and Lebanon Valley on Friday, January 19. Admission to those games will be ten dollars.

Admission to the skills competition is free, and the doors at the Nexus Center will open for spectators at 6:30 PM. Season tickets will also be available for pickup at the event, and a special presale window for purchasing tickets will begin on Friday, September 15, and run through the Home Opener on Friday, October 20.