No. 4 seed Canisius scored twice in the third period to break a 2-2 tie and defeat No. 6 seed Niagara, 4-2, in game three of their Atlantic Hockey Association Postseason semifinal round series Sunday at LECOM Harborcenter in downtown Buffalo.
Graduate student J.D. Pogue tallied the game-winning at the 4:39 mark of the third before senior Simon Gravel provided the insurance marker midway through the frame for the Golden Griffins (19-18-3), who won the best-of-three series against their Battle of the Bridge rivals, 2-1. With the win, Canisius also advanced to the Atlantic Hockey Championship Game, where they will host No. 7 seed Holy Cross, in a single-elimination contest on March 18 at LECOM Harborcenter.
Senior Ryan Miotto tallied a pair of power-play goals while fellow senior David Melaragni recorded a career-high three assists, all of which came on the power play, as Canisius was 3-for-6 with the man advantage. Senior goaltender Jacob Barczewski made 27 saves between the pipes for the Griffs to pick up his fourth victory of the postseason.
Glebs Prohorenkovs and Albin Nilsson scored the two goals for the Purple Eagles (19-18-3) while Chad Veltri made 26 stops in goal for the visitors.
Tied at 2-2 at the start of the third period, Pogue gave Canisius its second lead of the game moments before the five-minute mark of the final frame, sweeping a centering feed from junior Randy Hernandez past the out-stretched glove of Veltri and into the Niagara cage to put the Griffs in front.
Gravel provided an insurance maker just past the midway point of the third, jamming home a loose puck during the opening seconds of a five-minute power-play opportunity to make it a 4-2 contest and send the Griffs to the AHA Championship.
Earlier in the contest, Prohorenkovs gave Niagara a 1-0 lead less than five minutes into the contest, tapping home a centering feed from Albin Nilsson past the blocker of Barczewski to give the Purple Eagles the early lead.
Miotto brought Canisius level with a power-play goal at the 15:16 mark of the first period, one-timing a pass from Melaragni over the shoulder of Veltri for his team-leading 16th goal of the campaign.
The teams traded power-play goals during the second. Miotto notched his second of the contest just before the four-minute mark of the second, beating Veltri with a one-timer from the left face-off circle to give the Griffs a 2-1 edge.
Nilsson answered back for Niagara in the final minute of the second, tying the game with a power-play goal as he wired a slap shot from the right face-off circle over the glove of Barczewski to knot the score at 2-all.
• Canisius advanced to the Atlantic Hockey Association Championship for the fourth time in program history on Sunday. All four appearances have occurred since the 2012-13 season.
• The Griffs outshot the Purple Eagles, 30-29, for the contest. Niagara held a 10-6 edge in the first period while Canisius posted a 24-19 advantage over the final two periods.
• Canisius was 3-for-6 on the man advantage Sunday as it scored three power-play goals in a game for the first time this season.
• The Griffs improved to 12-2-0 when scoring four or more goals in a game this season.
• Canisius held their opponent to two goals or fewer for the sixth straight contest and the 21st time this season as they improved to 14-4-3 in those contests.
• Miotto recorded multiple goals in a game for the second time this season with his two-goal effort on Sunday. Both of his multi-goal performances have come in the Griffs’ last seven games.
• Melaragni established a career high for assists with his three-helper effort on Sunday. He also recorded multiple assists in a game for the second time this season with his three-helper performance.
• Senior Keaton Mastrodonato tallied multiple assists in a game for the third time this season and the seventh of his career with his two-assist performance on Saturday.
• Pogue recorded his first game-winning goal of the season and the third of his career with his third-period goal on Sunday. Pogue’s decisive marker on Sunday was his first game-winning goal since netting the overtime winner in the Griffs’ AHA Postseason semifinal win against Army back on March 19, 2021.
Canisius will host Holy Cross in the Atlantic Hockey Championship Game on March 18 at LECOM Harborcenter.
Game time and ticket information will be announced as soon as it is finalized.
For complete coverage of the Canisius hockey team, please follow the Griffs on social media at @GriffsHockey on Twitter and Instagram.
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