All three Atlantic Hockey first-round series went the full three games, but in the end the higher seeds triumphed. It sure was interesting, though.
Battle in the 716
Canisius and Niagara met for the fifth time on Sunday, a record number of times for the Western New York rivals in a single season. And like the previous two postgame meetings between the schools, it was the Golden Griffins that advanced.
After dropping Game One 3-2, Canisius defeated the Purple Eagles 1-0 on Saturday and 4-1 on Sunday. In all three games, the team that led in shots on goal lost.
Shane Conacher factored in five of Canisius’ seven goals on the weekend. He scored the game-winner on Sunday, his school record sixth GWG of the season.
Canisius moves on to visit Air Force. The Golden Griffins are the seventh seed, and the last two times they’ve made the AHC finals, they were also No. 7, including winning it all in 2013. Canisius’ march to the title that year included a quarterfinal sweep at Air Force.
This season, Air Force won the regular season series, 2-1-1.
Going to extremes
Army West Point and American International’s series was a tale of extremes: the Black Knights dominated Games One (5-0) and Three (4-0) and lost Game Two to the Yellow Jackets, 3-2 in overtime.
Junior goaltender Parker Gahagen posted his second and third shutouts of the season to lead the way, while Conor Andrle and Ian Mansfield led a balanced Army West Point attack with a pair of goals each in the series.
The Black Knights advance to face Holy Cross. Army West Point took three of four points from the Crusaders in Worcester a month ago.
This one had it all
Sacred Heart and Bentley usually bring out the best in each other, and their series at the John A Ryan Skating Arena lived up to expectations.
Friday’s game featured unanswered runs by both teams, as Bentley opened a 3-0 lead only to see the Pioneers get the next three. A pair of Bentley goals in the third gave the Falcons the lead, which held up despite a late SHU talley.
Game Two was a goaltender’s battle between Bentley’s Gabe Antoni (37 saves) and Sacred Heart’s Brett Magnus (36) that needed 13 minutes of overtime before Justin Danforth won it for the Pioneers, 2-1.
The Falcons entered the third period on Sunday clinging to a 2-1 lead, but a pair of goals by Kyle Schmidt in the final two minutes clinched the game and the series.
Junior Max French returned from injury to score three goals in the series. Injuries limited him to 29 games this season, but he leads the team in goals (21) and is tied for points (43) so far.
Bentley now draws top-seeded Robert Morris in the quarterfinals. The Colonials swept the Falcons in convincing fashion (5-1 and 5-0) in early January.
So to recap, the quarterfinals matchups are:
No. 8 Bentley at No. 1 Robert Morris
No. 7 Canisius at No. 2 Air Force
No. 6 Army at No. 3 Holy Cross
No. 5 Rochester Institute of Technology at No. 4 Mercyhurst