ROCHESTER, N.Y. — RIT scored three power-play goals and senior goaltender Jared DeMichiel stopped all 20 shots he faced as the Tigers defeated Canisius 4-0 in the first semifinal game of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs Friday.
It was DeMichiel’s sixth shutout of the season and the eigth overall for the Tigers, a team record.
“Our penalty killing was great and Jared was there when we needed him,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. The Tigers killed all seven Canisius power plays. The Griffs came into the game with a league-best conversion rate of 24 percent.
“Credit RIT,” said Canisius coach Dave Smith. “They did a good job filling lanes and won the puck battles. I thought we had some good looks at the net in the second period when it was still 2-0 and if we had put one in, it might have been a different game. But I thought we were a little too methodical and out of sync.”
The Tigers had lost their previous five games at Blue Cross Arena, including an exit in the semifinals the past two seasons. In several of those games, RIT gave up a goal in the first minutes of play. But Friday, DeMichiel set the tone with a glove save on a breakway attempt by Scott Moser 28 seconds into the contest.
“I think against Colgate [earlier this season at Blue Cross Arena], they scored on their first shift,” said DeMichiel. “We knew that they would come at us and that I would have to make a couple of big saves. But I knew that the guys would play great in front of me.”
RIT got on the board at 14:52 of the first period after peppering Canisius goaltender Dan Morrison. Tyler Brenner redirected a shot from the point by Dan Ringwald for the Tigers’ first power-play goal. Mike Janda made it 2-0 just 52 seconds later off a scramble in front of the Canisius net for the only even-strength goal of the game. Aided by three power plays, RIT outshot Canisius 18-6 in the first period.
Canisius had six power plays in the second period, including a five-on-three that carried over from the first period. The Griffs outshot the Tigers 8-4 in the second, but RIT got the only goal of the period on another power play redirection, this time by Andrew Favot off another Ringwald shot from the point.
Al Mazur finished the scoring with another RIT power play goal at 14:01 of the third period. His shot from the point deflected off a Canisius player and past Morrison.
RIT outshot Canisius 8-6 in the third period and 30-20 for the game. It was RIT’s ninth straight win, the longest streak in Division I. The Tigers advanced to the AHA championship game for the first time.
“I think we were ready for the challenge, to attack the challenge,” said Wilson. “This team knows what it has to do. Everybody has a role.”
“[The losing streak at Blue Cross] was in the back of our minds,” said Ringwald. “And in the first two minutes Canisius had us back on our heels. But then I thought our first power play, we generated a lot of chances and took things over from there.”
Canisius ends the season 17-15-1. It was the first time the Griffs had advanced to the league semifinals since 2004.
“It’s not the way we wanted to go out,” said Canisius senior Josh Heidinger. “Back in 2006 this [senior] class made it a goal to get to Rochester every year. It took us three years, but we got better each season. It’s been a good run.”
RIT improved to 25-11-1.