Junior Max Kouznetsov scored two goals and senior goaltender Jacob Barczewski recorded 25 saves to guide No. 4 seed Canisius to a 5-1 victory over No. 6 seed Niagara in game two of their Atlantic Hockey Association Postseason semifinal round series Saturday at LECOM Harborcenter in downtown Buffalo.
Seniors Brenden Datema and Nick Bowman and junior Jackson Decker also scored for the Golden Griffins (18-18-3), who evened the best-of-three series with Saturday’s victory and forced a winner-takes-all game three on Sunday.
Oliver Gauthier tallied the lone goal for the Purple Eagles (19-17-3) while Chad Veltri made 22 saves between the pipes for the visitors.
Datema opened the scoring at the 8:03 mark of the first period, firing a shot from the top of the slot that deflected off a Niagara defender and past Veltri for his first goal as a Golden Griffin.
Kouznetsov doubled the Canisius advantage to 2-0 on a power-play with less than two minutes to play in the first period, burying a feed from senior Simon Gravel for his fifth of the campaign.
Decker stretched the Griffs cushion to 3-0 just past the eight-minute mark of the second, beating Veltri to the blocker side after senior Markus Boguslavsky found him streaking down the left side with a feed from behind the goal line.
Gauthier got Niagara on the board with a goal during 4-on-4 play at the 15:35 mark of the second, collecting a loose puck off a face off and chipping it over the shoulder of Barczewski to make it a 3-1 contest.
The Griffs kept the Purple Eagles from getting any closer, however, as Canisius limited Niagara to just seven shots on goal in the third period before Bowman and Kouznetsov notched a pair of empty-net tallies just 44 seconds apart late in the final frame to put the game out of reach.
Post Game Comments
• Canisius outshot Niagara by a 27-26 margin for the contest, highlighted by a 12-7 edge in the third period.
• Canisius was 1-for-2 on the power play on Saturday while Niagara was 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
• Canisius improved to 12-6-0 this season when scoring the first goal of the game.
• The Griffs moved to 15-1-0 in 2022-23 when leading after 40 minutes
• Canisius held its opponent to two goals or fewer for the fifth straight contest as it improved to 13-5-3 this season when doing so.
• The Griffs tallied four or more goals in a game for the 13th time this season and improved to 11-2-0 when doing so.
• Kouznetsov scored multiple goals in a game for the second time this season and the third time in his career with his two-goal effort on Saturday.
• Kouznetsov recorded his first game-winning goal of the season and the third of his career with his first-period goal.
• Senior Ryan Miotto tallied multiple assists in a game for the second time this season the fourth time in his career as he tallied two assists on Saturday.
• Datema recorded his first goal since finding the back of the net at Northern Michigan on Feb. 29, 2020 while at Michigan Tech.
• Senior Keaton Mastrodonato recorded his team-leading 18th assist of the campaign on Kouznetsov’s empty-net tally in the third.
• The win on Saturday was Barczewski’s 42nd in a Canisius uniform, moving into a tie with Brian Worosz for second place on the program’s all-time wins list.
The teams conclude their series Sunday with a winner-takes-all game three at LECOM Harborcenter. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Tickets for the game are still available. They can be purchased by calling 716-888-TIXX or by visiting the tickets page on GoGriffs.com.
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