BUFFALO, N.Y. — What a difference 24 hours can make; 25 actually — between start times.
American International University, one night after getting bombarded in its Atlantic Hockey series opener, wanted a different game than the night before. The Yellow Jackets got it, and the result for them had to feel sweet after getting blown out by seven goals a night earlier.
Shawn McBride scored the winning goal at 8:06 of overtime on Saturday evening to give the Yellow Jackets a 2-1 victory, which tied the best-of-three series at one game apiece. The third and deciding game will be played 7 p.m. on Sunday.
“We’re feeling pretty good,” said AIC coach Eric Lang. “You know what? Credit our guys. I thought it was a really good college hockey game. And ultimately, you get what you deserve. We were the better team.
“We had a little grit tonight, and I get to coach these guys for one more game, and I am excited about that.”
While AIC ascended in this game, Canisius was not nearly as sharp as it was on Friday night.
“It was a tough loss tonight; it felt more like a playoff game,” said Canisius coach Trevor Large. “I thought our start was poor. We got better. I thought we were really good in the third. Not enough to get it done. Obviously, credit to AIC.”
McBride, who endured through a long scoring drought, now has two goals in his last three games. He scored the winner when he swooped in on a loose puck during a wild scramble in front of the net and poked the puck past Canisius goaltender Daniel Urbani.
“It was kind of a weird play,” said McBride of the winner. “One of our defensemen was carrying the puck up the ice and I was following in the second player. It was kind of a scramble, he put it toward the net, and it was just kind of laying there. So, I just directed it back at the Canisius goalie, and it found its way in five-hole.”
The goal made McBride feel especially good. He scored against Niagara last weekend after going 19 games without a goal dating back to November 25.
“I always want to contribute, but that is the way hockey is sometimes,” he said. “Things don’t always go your way, but the last two games I was feeling good and getting chances. I am just glad I could help my team get a win.”
Earlier, the Yellow Jackets took a 1-0 lead when defenseman Janis Jaks ripped a rising slap shot from the left point which whizzed past Urbani at 4:52 of the first period.
AIC showed industriousness in the period, outshooting the Griffs 12-3. Canisius, which came out storming in the previous game, seemed stuck in neutral early.
Canisius tied the game at one when defenseman Cameron Heath picked up a loose puck along the boards to the right of the AIC net and whistled a shot from a sharp angle past Yellow Jackets goaltender Stefano Durante just 2:36 into the third period.
Three of Heath’s seven goals this season have come against AIC.
Canisius had an apparent goal waved off when Grant Meyer sped in on Durante, deked the goaltender, and slid the puck past him while falling to the ice to give the Griffs an apparent 2-1 lead at 6:42. The play was reviewed and the goal disallowed because the play was ruled offside.
Canisius got some potentially bad news when Ryan Schmelzer crashed hard into the boards a few seconds before McBride’s goal. He seemed to suffer a lower body injury and gingerly left the ice under his own power. After the game, Large said the doctors were examining him, and that his status for Sunday’s game would not be known until possibly close to the game.