WALTHAM, Mass. — The Canisius Golden Griffins struck first and Bentley was never able to pull closer than two goals in the Griffins 7-3 win Saturday night at the John A. Ryan Skating Arena. The win forced a third and deciding game set for Sunday night.
“We played very hungry and we found the pucks around the net that we didn’t find last night,” Canisius coach Dave Smith said. “We’re gonna take the good things and try to repeat them and try to learn from the not as good things. We just want to play the same real aggressive puck pursuit game.”
Canisius scored first at 11:37 of the opening period. A Spencer Churchill attempt hit the lower right post along the ice, but the puck eventually came out. Canisius picked it up and defenseman Dave Cianfrini sent another shot at the net before Cory Conacher stuffed in the puck.
“We really wanted to get the first goal,” Canisius forward Ryan Klusendorf said. “It was huge for us, especially coming off the loss and trying to come from behind yesterday.”
Less than two minutes later, Dave Kostuch chased down a loose puck from his defensive zone to the far goal line to the left of the Bentley net. After two Canisius chances, including one that went wide, Kostuch swooped out from behind the net and jammed in the puck at 13:26.
Klusendorf gave the Griffins a 3-0 lead on a power play. He tipped in a Wes Love shot from the center point at 15:50.
Bentley answered in the final minute with a goal of their own. Dain Prewitt skated in on a three-on-one with just Canisius defenseman Scott Jenks back. He slid to cut out the pass, but closed in too tight on Canisius goaltender Andrew Loewen and the puck found the back of the net at 19:38.
Canisius captain Peter MacDougall was penalized after the goal for hitting after the whistle. The Griffins killed off the penalty that turned into 1:10 of five-on-three when Cianfrini was also penalized for tripping.
They then got a power-play goal of their own at 5:06 of the second period when Carl Hudson sent a shot from the right point that clanked off the post and crossbar before going into the net.
Klusendorf got his second of the night when he sent a shot towards the net from behind the goal line in the right corner looking for MacDougall camped out in the crease. The puck deflected off a skate in front and through Rank’s legs for the fifth Canisius goal.
Joe Calvi then came into goal for Bentley in relief of Rank. Calvi ended the game with three saves, including a stopped breakaway attempt by Adam Brace in the closing minutes of the second period.
Jason Weeks and Scott Jenks added goals in the third period for Canisius at 7:30 and 9:39. Weeks batted a puck out of the air at the right of the crease while Jenks’ shot from the right point also found its way to the back of the Bentley net for the power-play goal.
The Falcons spent much of the third period in the penalty box, including three straight overlapping penalties that saw the teams skate five-on-three, four-on-three and five-on-four.
“We let our emotions get the best of us,” Bentley coach Ryan Soderquist said. “We thought that we were gonna come out and get a win in the first five minutes of a hockey game and it would be over. We didn’t take it one shift at a time and play sixty minutes.”
Canisius went three-for-eight on the power play while Bentley answered with two goals of their own on eight opportunities with the man advantage. The Falcons outshot the Griffins 44-20 and Loewen earned a Canisius post-season record with 41 saves in the game.
“We just didn’t want it,” Prewitt said. “We didn’t come ready to play tonight. We weren’t willing to win the battles. We got caught in not playing our game and we were too complacent tonight.”
The series will be decided Sunday night at 7:05 p.m. at the John A. Ryan Skating Arena. The winner of the series will then travel to Rochester to play in the semifinals of the Atlantic Hockey tournament on Friday.