GENEVA — Most hockey players don’t get to experience hockey after college or junior leagues.
Luckily for two Hobart Statesmen, hockey after college is not just a possibility, it is now a reality.
2019 graduates Matt Pizzo and Tanner Shaw have signed contracts to play professional hockey for Etoile Noire de Strasbourg, a team based in Strasbourg, France in the Ligue Magnus, the top men’s French ice hockey league.
Strasbourg is in the East of France and sits on the west side of the Rhine river and shares a boarder with Germany; it is not a bad place to begin a post-graduate career.
Pizzo and Shaw played 30 and 29 games this year for the Statesmen, respectively.
The two defensemen were key parts of the Hobart defense which finished 16th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 2.16 goals per game on their way to the Division III Final Four.
The two played a combined 192 career games for the Statesmen.
Shaw played 112 games for Hobart and amassed 19 goals and 47 assists for 66 points. He was named as one of the team captains this past season and scored scored six goals and nine assists for 15 points. Two of his goals came in one game in Hobart’s 3-1 win over New England College on November 17th, including the game-winning goal.
Following the postseason, Shaw was named to the All-NEHC second team. He ended seventh in the NEHC in points by a defenseman and 14th in power-play goals with three and had 16 blocked shots.
Playing at Hobart certainly helped Shaw to become a professional-caliber player over his four years.
“The winning culture of Hobart hockey instilled in us from Day 1 motivated everyone in our class to better themselves,” Shaw said in an article on hwsathletics.com. “Without the consistent accountability from my teammates, I wouldn’t be half the player I am today, and I thank them for that.”
As for Matt Pizzo, he played 79 career games for the Statesmen and accounted for 35 points with 10 goals and 25 assists and was a three time all-academic team selection.
This past year, Pizzo accounted for 11 assists in addition to a pair of goals and 25 blocked shots.
Both Pizzo and Shaw shared the Holden Award for sportsmanship, character and leadership alongside teammates Jonas Toupal and Jack Macnee.
They were also some of the most disciplined players on the team. Pizzo was called for five penalties the entire season and Shaw was called for just three.
While the two will be on the same team, they won’t be the only Statesmen playing in France. Lino Chimienti, class of 2016 and Ben Greiner, class of 2018, play for another French club, Jokers de Cergy, which resides in Division I, a separate French League.