Canisius' Win Opens Door For Two Atlantic Hockey Teams in NCAAs
CHN Staff Report
All season, Niagara dominated Atlantic Hockey, giving the conference a lot of recognition by being well within range of an at-large bid to the NCAAs.
But in losing Friday to Canisius, Niagara actually gave Atlantic Hockey even more recognition, because now, for the first time, two conference teams will go to the NCAAs.
That is not the way Niagara wanted it to happen, of course. But it ran into its cross-town neighbor on a big roll.
Canisius has won seven in a row, including three straight over the league's top two teams, and will play for a conference championship for just the second time in its history, last coming in 1999 as a member of the MAAC.
“It was great team effort against a very good Niagara team, who is having a special season,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “I’m really proud of the effort from everybody and the support in the stands from Canisius fans was outstanding.
Niagara, meanwhile, appears headed for an NCAA bid anyway, the first at-large bid for the conference.
"Canisius was the better team tonight," head coach David Burkholder said. "They were very good defensively. We couldn't get through their neutral zone trap. Everyone coming in thought it would be a low scoring game, but they showed a little more grit and more passion than we did and now we're going home."
Niagara tied the game twice in the second after falling behind a goal, but the Griffins pulled away with the game with an early third period score that made it 4-2.
Newly-anointed Hobey Baker Award finalist Carsen Chubak was able to stop just 24 of 29 shots, and was outplayed by Canisius netminder Tony Capobianco, who has made quite a name for himself recently. He stopped 38 shots in the win, coming off two huge efforts against Air Force.
Niagara started off well, getting the 20th of the season from Giancarlo Iuorio. But Canisius scored the next two.