Former UND captains Chay Genoway and Andrew MacWilliam claim Austria's top title
Playing on a defensive pairing together just as they did at UND, Genoway and MacWilliam led Salzburg to a championship.
GRAND FORKS — Last summer, Andrew MacWilliam picked up Chay Genoway to play a round of golf in Calgary, where they both now reside.
"Hey," MacWilliam said to Genoway, "you want to be teammates again?"
MacWilliam had just signed with Salzburg in Austria's top league. Genoway had signed there earlier in the summer.
The former UND teammates and defensive partners were reunited for the first time in 12 years.
They ended up back on the same defensive pairing just as they were during the 2010-11 season, leading UND to a MacNaughton Cup and a Broadmoor Trophy.
"We were with a bunch of different guys to start," Genoway said. "It was funny. As soon as they put us together, it felt right the whole time to be back together. It was fun. It was easy to play together. It was such a cool deal to be back together like that, not only playing as a pair, but being on the same team, being roommates on the road. . . it was special."
It ended in a special way, too.
Salzburg won the league championship, beating Italian-based Bolzano in seven games.
In Game 7, Salzburg trailed 1-0 midway through the third, but scored twice to finish off the title. The winning goal was scored with 1:48 to go. Genoway assisted on it.
"It was an amazing feeling," MacWilliam said. "That was the first trophy I've won in pro. The last one would have been the conference titles in school. It's not the Stanley Cup, but it doesn't matter. It's an amazing experience to win something after the grind of the season. To be able to top it off with a victory, a trophy and to be able to share it with Chay was awesome."
Genoway and MacWilliam anchored the best defensive team in Austria.
Salzburg allowed just 2.02 goals per game. Of the 130 teams across Europe's top eight leagues, Salzburg ranked second in team defense.
Genoway and MacWilliam said their familiarity with each other's games helped.
"Players develop and change," Genoway said. "But by the time you're in college, you know what each other are all about. Him and I have kept in touch. It just kind of comes back together pretty quickly. It felt like we were a good fit right away again. We understand each other and have respect for each other. We had a lot of fun as a pair. I'll remember this one for a long time."
During the playoffs, Salzburg allowed only 10 goals in its 12 victories.
But it wasn't all smooth sailing.
After taking a 3-1 series lead, Bolzano stormed back to even the series.
In Game 5, Bolzano won a triple overtime game on a goal by Genoway and MacWilliam's old UND teammate, Matt Frattin.
"It was all too familiar," MacWilliam said. "He took over in overtime. He had so many chances. We saw him go Beast Mode again and score. It was triple overtime and everyone was gassed, but he had some jump."
Bolzano won Game 6 in Salzburg, but the Red Bulls came back and won Game 7 on the road.
"It was a crazy finish," Genoway said. "I'm still trying to process it almost two weeks later. It could have gone either way. They're up 1-0 with 10 to go in the third. We were doing all the cliche things of sticking with it, and it just kind of worked out for us. Having to grind it that way made it that much more special."
Long pro careers
Both players wore the captain's 'C' at UND as seniors before embarking on long pro careers.
Genoway, who left UND after five years in 2011, cracked the NHL with the Minnesota Wild. He has since played for professional teams in Latvia, Russia, Finland, Sweden and now Austria.
Genoway also won an Olympic bronze medal with Canada in 2018.
MacWilliam left UND after four years in 2013. He cracked the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2014-15 and remained in the American Hockey League until 2020. MacWilliam played two seasons in Munich before moving to Salzburg.
MacWilliam is not yet signed for next season.
Genoway has one year left on his Salzburg contract.
"I loved it there," Genoway said. "I reached out to some guys who had played there (before I signed) — Dunc (Ryan Duncan), J.P. Lamoureux, Chorns (Taylor Chorney). They all raved about the city. I knew the city was nice, but I think I was a little naive to just how beautiful everything is around there."