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Canisius Hockey’s Cinderella Story Ends With Loss to No. 1–Ranked Minnesota

By Connor Pohlman

Canisius hockey’s miraculous journey to the NCAA tournament ended last Thursday, when they fell to the No. 1 ranked Minnesota Gophers. Consisting of 13 drafted NHL prospects and more to come, the Gophers are a force to be reckoned with, and despite the final 9–2 score, the contest was a tight affair for its majority.

This season's trip to the NCAA tournament was Canisius second ever appearance, and their first trip since 2013, where they lost in the first round to top ranked Quinnipiac.

Canisius’ season was highlighted by an AHA Championship, their first title since 2013 as well.

Head coach Trevor Large expressed his happiness with his team this season, explaining that “We had a moment as a team to celebrate a championship. That will last forever. I smile when thinking about our team this year… It's a very special group and I’m very proud to coach this team.”

The Ice Griffs’ successful season continued even after their final game as well, with captain Keaton Mastrodonato having recently agreed to terms on an amateur tryout agreement with the Dallas Stars’ AHL affiliate the Texas Stars.

Six minutes after the puck dropped from Scheels Arena in Fargo, N.D., Luke Mittelstadt, brother of Buffalo Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt, opened the scoring for the game. Daniel DiGrande answered back for the Griffs less than three minutes later, firing a one-timer home on the powerplay to knot things at one.

Graduate student Nick Bowman gave the Griffs their first and only lead of the game, as he showcased his skills on a highlight-reel goal that earned him #2 honors on the Sportscenter Top 10.

Sabres prospect Aaron Huglen tied the contest at two just past the eight minute mark of the middle frame, firing a wrist shot past Barczewski. Connor Kurth restored the Gophers advantage during the final two minutes of the second period to give Minnesota the one goal edge heading into the final period.

“I thought the first 40 minutes, we played very well,” Large said. “I thought it was an even hockey game up to that point.”

Minnesota used the third period to showcase their dominance, highlighted by Bryce Brodzinki’s hat trick. St. Louis Blues prospect Jimmy Snuggerud, New York Rangers prospect Brody Lamb, and Mason Nevers also found the back of the net in the final frame for the Gophers.

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