March 16, 2014 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Atlantic Roundup: Canisius 2 OT Win Forces Game 3

by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer

WATERTOWN, Mass. — Kyle Gibbons could just see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was so close, it was practically blinding.

Canisius trailed by three goals heading into the third period Saturday night against Bentley. The Griffs trailed the series 1-0 and Gibbons, a senior, was coming to grips with the fact that his stellar collegiate career might be coming to a close along with six of his senior teammates.

“We don’t want to go home,” he said. “You’re a senior, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel like that and it’s close. You just dig deep. Our seniors and our whole team bought in. We put our passion in one big pile and got the job done.”

The Griffs stormed back in the third – a rally started by senior defenseman Ben Danford at the 5:15 mark – tying the score with three goals in the final 15 minutes of regulation. That set the stage for Gibbons, who finished off the Falcons with a double-overtime goal at the game’s 86:59 mark, falling just one second short of tying a Canisius record for the longest game played in its history.

It was just the second goal in 11 games for Gibbons, who was named MVP of the Atlantic Hockey tournament last season after leading the Griffs to the title and a berth in the NCAA tournament.

For a guy with 57 career goals, this one ranks up near the top.

“It’s top-5 for sure,” he said. “It just feels good. You need to go to the areas where goals are scored and that’s the front of the net. You hope it finds you and (Tyler) Wiseman made a great play, he put it on a tee, and I was fortunate enough to bury it. It all started with Wiseman. Coach kept telling me, ‘Go to the front of the net, you need to go to the front of the net.’ I did and Wiseman made a perfect pass, I just put it in.”

The play started when Gibbons tried to find Wiseman with a pass on the rush but missed, resulting in the puck becoming trapped deep in the Bentley zone.

“I missed it by a mile,” Gibbons said. “But it did get the puck deep, and I just went to the front of the net and Wiseman made a great play to find me.

“My freshman year, we’re in the playoffs against Holy Cross and Ryan Bohrer made a similar play and I think I put it in the exact same spot. We made a little adjustment as players. We thought we needed to be more simple. We needed to get pucks deep.”

Wiseman didn’t even start the game on Gibbons’ line.

Junior Cody Freeman, who has 24 points in 36 games this season, left the game in the second period after taking an awkward hit in the corner with an apparent head injury.

After some line juggling, Wiseman was inserted on Gibbons’ line alongside Patrick Sullivan.

“We were trying some different guys,” Canisius head coach Dave Smith said. “It did allow me to play Kyle a lot more. We had a good talk before the game and his composure was great, his patience was great.”

Smith continued, “All I wanted our guys to do was to create their own story. With their backs against the wall, create your own story. Don’t let anyone dictate to you, and our guys wrote their story. They wouldn’t let it be dictated.”

Game three will be Sunday night at the John A. Ryan Rink.

* * *

Mercyhurst advanced with a two-game sweep of Holy Cross. The Lakers advance to the AHA Semifinals for the third consecutive year. Alec Shields scored his first collegiate goal which also proved to be the game-winner.

Mercyhurst will face either Niagara or Robert Morris next Friday.

* * *

Ben Robillard and Evan Moore scored second-period goals as Robert Morris overtook Connecticut for a 3-2 win and a sweep of their series.

"Our fourth line contributes with a goal that turned out to be the game winner ... that just shows you the depth of our hockey team," RMU coach Derek Schooley said. "We sold out tonight. Guys were diving to block shots, our goalie was strong in the net. We did a good job. I don't think we held on. We played the period we wanted. We didn't want to play in our end and get outshot 25-2. We got outshot 16-7, but yeah a desperate team is going to do that when their season's on the line.

"The scoring chances were 1-1 in the first period. Our guys just played with a lot of desperation. We've never been to Rochester in four years, and our guys sold out to do it. I'm so proud of them, because they worked so hard."

Dalton Izyk made 36 saves for the Colonials, playing without usual No. 1 starter Terry Shafer for a second straight game.

* * *

Niagara held off Air Force for a 4-3 win in Colorado Springs to force a Game 3.

Behind a pair of goals from Hugo Turcotte

“It was a perfect time for a complete game from our team from start to finish,” head coach Dave Burkholder said.  “I thought we played with composure and kept up the intensity the full 60 minutes.  As the game wore on we definitely out chanced Air Force with some quality grade As. But their goalie kept it close.  Obviously they’re a very good team and threw everything they had at us in the third, but we preserved and we live another night.”

“It is never easy when you play Niagara,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “They came at us and they were relentless and physical. The better team won tonight. We better come out tomorrow with more urgency or our season will come to a screeching halt.”

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