ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Canisius defenseman Stephen Farrell scored at 13:30 of the second overtime to lift Canisius to a 5-4 win over Mercyhurst in the first Atlantic Hockey semifinal on Friday.
Farrell’s goal, his first of the season, was a shot from the point that glanced off a Mercyhurst defender’s stick and beat Lakers goaltender Jimmy Sarjeant.
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“We’re the defending champs and to get back to the championship game is a credit to our guys,” said Canisius coach Dave Smith. “I thought both teams played very well.”
“When you get to double overtime, it’s about getting a bounce and the hockey gods smiled on Canisius,” said Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin. “We were 0-0-7 in overtime during the regular season and we finally won an overtime game last week [against Holy Cross] and now we lost one in overtime. I guess it evens out.”
Neither team led by more than a goal in the contest, which ended as the longest game in Canisius history and the second-longest ever played in Atlantic Hockey.
Canisus got the first goal of the contest 7:40 into the first period. Ralph Cuddemi scored the first of two goals by redirecting a shot from the point by Mitch McCrank.
But Mercyhurst ended the first period leading 2-1. Lakers defenseman Alec Shields also scored twice in the game, his first coming from a shot from a tight angle that glanced off of Ferrell and past Golden Griffins goaltender Tony Capobianco at 9:40.
The Lakers took the lead at 17:34 on the power play when Nick Jone’s shot from the high slot found the back of the net through a crowd in front of Capobianco.
Cuddemi tallied again on a great individual effort just 1:19 into the second period to tie the game at 2-2. He broke down the right side and cut toward the Mercyhurst net, roofing a shot past Sarjeant from in close.
Shields got his second of the game and third of the season at 11:03 to again give Mercyhurst a lead, but Patrick Sullivan evened things up at 17:10 to close out scoring in the second period.
“It was that kind of a game,” said Smith. “We would score and then they would score. They would score and we would answer.”
Each team scored a goal in the third period to end regulation tied 4-4. Mercyhurst led in shots on goal through regulation 40-31.
The first overtime was the wildest period of the contest despite the lack of goals. The teams combined for 26 shots in the period with Capobianco making 16 saves and Sarjeant 10.
That set the stage for Ferrell’s heroics in the second overtime. Both teams were on fumes before the Griffs’ golden goal.
“Hockey’s a humbling game,” said Gotkin. “Both goalies played great and it’s a tough way to lose, to end our season. … It’s been one of my favorite teams to coach and it’s sad it has to end.”
Sergeant, the league’s player of the year, lost for the first time to a league foe. The junior, who made 42 saves, was 16-0-5 against Atlantic Hockey opponents heading into the game.
He was outdueled by Capobianco, who made a school playoff-record 58 saves.
“It starts with Capobianco,” Smith said of his senior goaltender. “He was outstanding.”
Canisius advanced to the title game for the second straight season, again as the No. 7 seed.
“I think the word that best described us tonight was ‘resiliency’”, said Smith. “We had positive feelings on the bench and it eventually turned to elation.”
The Griffins will try to get some rest heading into Saturday’s championship game.
“You never want to get into double overtime with a game tomorrow,” said Cuddemi. “But we’ll get some fluids in us and be ready to go.”