Atlantic Roundup: Late Heroics Give Mercyhurst, Bentley Game 1 Wins
CHN Staff Report
Mercyhurst and Bentley came in as the top two seeds in the Atlantic Hockey playoffs. But both needed late heroics to avoid Game 1 upsets in their quarterfinal series.
Mercyhurst got a goal from senior Daniel O’Donoghue with 26 seconds left in third period to send game to overtime, and Kyle Cook scored his second goal of the game 4:40 into overtime to give the Lakers a 1-0 series edge over Holy Cross.
Likewise, Brett Gensler scored with 23 seconds left in regulation to send Bentley into overtime against Canisius. From there, it took just 40 seconds for Brett Switzer to score and give the Falcons the series lead.
On a rush, a deflected shot went right to Switzer in front and he tapped it in for the game-winning goal.
“It was a really good hockey game tonight where we just missed taking the lead in the series,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “Bentley got a fortunate bounce for the game-winning goal but I thought physically, we controlled the game after the first 10 minutes. We really stepped up our play and showed great intensity. We just have to repeat it and bring the same game tomorrow.”
Canisius, the defending tournament champs, had won eight straight playoff games.
Dalton Izyk didn't get much playing time this year, but he's making the most of it now. After entrenched No. 1 Terry Shafter got hurt after allowing a goal to Army last week, Izyk came on and shut out Army the rest of the way, as RMU rallied for a win of the game and first-round series.
Izyk picked up where he left off, shutting out Connecticut in Game 1 of the quarterfinals, 3-0, on 33 saves.
“I really liked (our) hockey team tonight,” said head coach Derek Schooley. “We stuck with it the whole game tonight and our penalty kill was good when it counted.
“[Izyk] was really good tonight. He made the big saves early and got into the flow of the game and was poised and composed down the stretch.”
The game was scoreless until there was 46 seconds left in the second period.
“We bent a couple of times in the first period, by boy did we respond in the second period,” Schooley said.
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Air Force defeated Niagara, 2-1, to take the first game of their series.
“Our theme tonight was desire over excuses and I thought desire won out. We had a really good road game against a good team,” Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. “Air Force made a couple plays on the rush and converted on them which was the difference in the game. I thought the second period we pushed the pace, and had our chances. It was a good effort from a team that left it all on the ice.”
“This was a hard-fought game, but our guys found a way to win,” Air Force coach Frank Serratore said. “Can we play better? Of course we can. We had some scoring chances and their goalie came up big. And we had some turnovers that gave them chances and luckily they didn’t end up in our net. We know Saturday night will be a battle.”