WATERVILLE — On paper, Colby College and SUNY Geneseo are similar hockey clubs — they feature balanced scoring, stingy defensive philosophies, great goaltending and good special teams.

But the two programs couldn’t be more dissimilar.

Third-ranked Geneseo (20-5-3) will try and make the program’s third appearance in the NCAA Division III Frozen Four when they host Colby (16-10-2) in a national quarterfinal Saturday night at 7. The two teams did not meet in the regular season and shared only one common opponent. (the University of New England).

The Mules may be riding a wave of postseason magic, but the Knights are drawing from valuable experience on this stage. Geneseo has reached the national semifinals in two of the last five years (2014 and 2016).

“What’s going to help us, I think, is that our juniors and seniors have been there before,” said Geneseo head coach Chris Schultz, the 2016 Division III coach of the year. “At least for me it’s, ‘Hey we got there before, I’ve been to the Frozen Four twice, this group of players has been there once.’

“It was a great experience the first time and it was a great experience the second time, but the truth is that the more I think about it the more aggravated I am that we didn’t win one of those games to get to the national final. I think our juniors and seniors feel a little bit of that, too.”

Schultz might have the horses to make it happen this season.

Geneseo features four 30-point scorers — all sophomores — in Conlan Keenan, Tyson Empey, Andrew Romano and David Szmyd. Keenan leads the team with 39 points, while Empey has 21 goals and Romano has 30 assists. On the back end, the Knights feature junior goalie Devin McDonald, who might be the lone netminder in the nation to challenge Colby’s own Sean Lawrence.

McDonald has started 26 of the team’s 28 games, posting a 1.79 goals against average and a .927 save percentage.

“Our No. 1 priority is always to take care of our own end of the ice,” Schultz said. “We’ve gotten a that buy-in from our players to protect our end and it creates a lot of offense. Taking care of the whole 200 feet is the identity that we have.”

Colby can relate. With five 20-point scorers — led by senior Phil Klitirinos and sophomore Kienan Scott with 26 points apiece — and arguably the nation’s hottest goaltender in Lawrence, the Mules rely on a complete effort in all three zones in the same way this weekend’s counterpart does.

During Colby’s current eight-game unbeaten run (6-0-2), opponents have scored just 10 goals.

“It all starts with the seniors,” Colby junior defenseman Thomas Stahlhuth said. “They’ve had so much experience that we all thrive off of it. They tell us every day to keep it simple — good gaps and get the puck out of our zone. We’ve kind of taken that to heart and it’s made a big difference.”

Colby head coach Blaise MacDonald likened Geneseo to Trinity in terms of its overall game, and he likes the fact that Saturday’s game should feature a feel familiar to the Mules. They had to beat an offensive juggernaut in the University of New England in the first round.

“You want to get a sense for what type of team you’re playing against,” MacDonald said. “They remind me a lot of Trinity and UNE, and even Wesleyan, which is a very creative team offensively. We’ve played against three very good offensive-type of teams, and I think we’re preparing for something similar this weekend.”

Geneseo played UNE in early January, losing 9-5 in a game that Schultz believed his team played very well in but was let down by its goaltending. The Knights and Mules last met early in the 2016-17 season, with Geneseo taking a 4-3 overtime victory.

“Colby’s going to be a tough matchup for us,” Schultz said. “We know they’re going to play hard for 60 minutes. We have to make sure we’re worrying about Geneseo and nobody else. We’ve got to control what we can control.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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