Canisius Hockey Punches Their Ticket To The AHA Championship
By Connor Pohlman, Sports Editor
After a gritty 3 game series, the No. 4 seeded Canisius College hockey team fought through adversity and came out on the winning end against the No. 6 seeded Niagara Purple Eagles. Saturday will mark the first time ever that the Ice Griffs will be hosting the AHA Championship.
In the first game of the series, Niagara just managed to edge out the Golden Griffins, stealing the bout 2-1. Junior Randy Hernandez tallied the only goal for Canisius, while Jacob Barczewski made 34 saves between the pipes.
In a win-or-go-home situation for Canisius in Game 2, the Ice Griffs put their foot on the gas and did not let up, icing Niagara in a 5-1 rout. Max Kouznetsov, Nick Bowman, Jackson Decker, and Brenden Datema can be thanked for their contributions to the Golden Griffin’s scoresheet, while Oliver Gauthier tallied the only Niagara goal.
Heading into Game 3, the stage was set for a classic Battle of the Bridge to determine who would earn one of the spots in the AHA Championship.
Less than five minutes into the contest, Glebs Prohorenkovs gave Niagara the early lead, tapping in a centering feed just above the blocker of Barczewski.
Ryan Miotto brought Canisius level with a power play goal at the 15:16 of the first period, burying a one-timer with a pass from David Melaragni.
The teams traded power play goals in the 2nd, with Miotto notching his second of the game and Albin Nilsson wiring a shot home to tie the game at 2-2.
“It’s 2-2 going into the third period, you know there’s going to be emotion there” head coach Trevor Large said after the game. “You know that each team is gonna push and get some opportunities.”
With the game knotted at the start of the third period, Graduate Student J.D. Pogue broke the deadlock, burying the puck into the back of Niagara’s net to give Canisius the edge. Pogue’s goal would be the game winner, as Niagara would be unable to hit the 3 goal mark.
Simon Gravel provided the insurance marker just past the midway point of the third to double Canisius’ lead, adding to their cushion and sealing the deal for the Ice Griffs.
The Ice Griffs know that the road ahead will only continue to get more difficult, with Large explaining that, “any championship game has two teams that are hot, and that’s what it’s gonna be. It’s gonna be two teams playing extremely well going toe-to-toe in a championship game, and we’re extremely excited.”
Canisius will host Holy Cross in the Atlantic Hockey Association Championship Game on March 18 at LECOM Harborcenter.