Canisius overcame an early case of nerves against rival St. Joe’s by scoring four straight goals en route to a 6-3 Western New York Federation hockey victory before an estimated 1,000 at the Buffalo State Ice Arena on Sunday.
With the win, Canisius snapped the Marauders’ eight-game winning streak.
Joe Mancuso and Brendan Dallas each scored twice for the Crusaders, who not only won in interim coach Jason Bridge’s debut but also clinched the No. 2 seed for the Niagara Cup playoffs.
They will face St. Joe’s in the semifinals Feb. 18 at Dwyer Arena at Niagara, which means Canisius will basically have the last line change (a key for matching lines) in the postseason showdown.
“It’s been a trying few days for us,” said Bridge, who took over Thursday for the fired Eugene Naab. “I did my best to keep the boys focused and to the boys’ credit, they themselves did a great job focusing on what’s going on on the ice. We were heading in the right direction for the season. I’m just trying to finish that out.
“I think we sent a message that we’re a good team and that we can play with them.”
Nick Zenger’s goal 17 seconds in gave St. Joe’s the early lead. Canisius (16-4-2, 13-3-2), the last team to beat the Marauders (14-11, 9-6-1), on Jan. 9, tied it with 5:04 left in the first on Patrick Mitchell’s booming slap shot into the top corner.
Just over two minutes later, Mancuso zipped one in under the bar to give the Crusaders the lead for good.
Jake Nichols finished with 27 saves for Canisius, which also received a goal from Elliott Crimen.
Timon wins 10th straight
Bishop Timon-St. Jude won its 10th straight game in Federation hockey action as it concluded the regular season with an impressive 6-1 victory over Niagara-Wheatfield on Sunday night. The Tigers had already clinched the top seed for the Niagara Cup playoffs.
West Seneca East secured the top seed for the Section VI Small School Federation hockey playoffs, but the Trojans’ quest for an unbeaten season ended at the hands of a fellow state-ranked team Sunday night at Buffalo State Ice Arena.
Colin Mills’ goal with 2:21 left in overtime enabled state No. 11 Hamburg to beat the No. 2-ranked Trojans, 4-3.
Mills drove to the net during a two-on-two rush and chipped in a rebound past Matt Radder (28 saves).
West Seneca East (13-0-2-1, 12-0-2-1), playing its third game in four days, forced overtime with 13 seconds left on Michael Benaquist’s goal.
The Bulldogs (12-4-3, 11-2-3) got goals from Jason Lucarelli, Colm Coppola and Brendon Hart. Goalie Vinny Goodrich made 28 saves, including a few key stops during the third period.
Losing in overtime gave the Trojans a point, which means they have as many as Williamsville East. WSE beat Will East in regulation and has as many league wins as the Flames.
St. Francis champs again
St. Francis, which won the Monsignor Martin regular season wrestling championship with a dual-meet victory over St. Joe’s on Thursday, had eight individual champions as it won the All-Catholic championships.
Matt Heywood (99), Kyrill Calkins (106), Travis Bittner (120), Mike Miller (132), Matt Muffoletto (138), Jake Duggan (152), Marco Gangaroosa (182) and Jake Braunscheidel (195) won titles for the Red Raiders, whose point total of 225 was 43 more than St. Joe’s in the five-team meet.
Eesaa Abdur-Rahman (160) of St. Joe’s and Braunscheidel shared Most Outstanding Wrestler honors.
Hoops showdown tonight
A major matchup in ECIC I boys basketball tonight has No. 2 large school Williamsville North heading to No. 5 Jamestown at 7:30.
The host Red Raiders lost at North, 61-60, last Dec. 17.
Fed girls face off
The playoffs in Western New York Federation girls hockey start today with a full lineup at the Northtown Center at Amherst.
Four quarterfinal games will be played, with winners advancing to Wednesday’s semifinals at Northtown. The final is Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Today’s games: 6-Frontier/Orchard Park vs. 3-Monsignor Martin (4:30 p.m.); 7-Nichols vs. 2-Lancaster/Iroquois (6); 5-Amherst/Sweet Home vs. 4-Williamsville (7:30); 8-West Seneca vs. 1-Kenmore (9).