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March 16, 2014 E-MAIL PRINT Bookmark and Share

McCrank Hat Trick Leads Canisius Back to AH Semis

CHN Staff Report

Canisius made a run from practically nowhere last season to an Atlantic Hockey championship and NCAA appearance. And now it has put itself in position to do it again.

Less than 24 hours after being in a 1-0 series hole, and 4-1 deficit in Game 2, the Golden Griffins — the No. 7 seed in the tournament — are headed to Rochester for the Atlantic Hockey semifinals.

Canisius junior Mitch McCrank scored all of his team's goals, including the third-period game winner, as the Griffs defeated second-seeded Bentley, 3-2.

“Our physical play from the first puck drop on Friday to the final horn on Sunday was the ultimate difference in a really close weekend,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “Both team had opportunities to win the series in two games but I’m proud of our effort to earn the win in three against a very good Bentley team. Our depth, physical play and goaltending were the difference in the weekend.”

The loss ended Bentley's school-record 19-win season.

Tony Capobianco stopped 38 shots in the win.

Canisius will face top-seeded Mercyhurst in the semifinals, the team it defeated in last year's championship game.

Bentley netted the game’s first goal when Brett Gensler scored with 8:56 remaining in the first. McCrank tied it twice along the way, before giving his team its first lead, and only one it would need, 8:52 into the third period.

Elsewhere

Niagara senior Matt Williams scored 4:49 into overtime to defeat Air Force and advance to the Atlantic Hockey semifinals.

Niagara lost the first game of the series, but bounced back, on the road, to win the final two games.

“This series will go down as one of the biggest moments in our hockey history,” Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. “It was a phenomenal effort from the entire team. Different guys stepped it up at different times for us.

"It took us a lot to pull this together this year, but you can feel the trust and love in the locker room and we certainly came together at the right time. I couldn’t be happier for Matt Williams pulling the trigger in overtime and sending us to Rochester.”

The Purple Eagles will face Robert Morris next week in Rochester.

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