The Atlantic Hockey playoffs open Friday and for Western New York, the opening round doesn't get much better than this. Canisius hosts Niagara in the best-of-three series at 7:35 p.m. at HarborCenter.
The Griffs (10-13-5) are the No. 7 seed. They've lost their last four but home playoff games have been good to Canisius. The Griffs are 6-0 the last three seasons at home in the playoffs, outscoring teams, 18-2, in the three series.
Senior Ralph Cuddemi is two goals shy of the program's all-time record while junior Shane Conacher is one-goal shy of becoming the fourth Griff to have a 20-goal season. The underclassmen have come of age as well, recording 54 points in the last 14 games. Rookie defenseman Jimmy Mazza is on a six-game point streak with three goals and five assists in that span.
Niagara (5-18-5) is the No. 10 seed. It's been another difficult season for the Purple Eagles who went winless in their last six regular-season games with three ties followed by three losses.
Derian Plouffe leads Niagara with 17 points and 11 goals this season. Defender Vinny Muto has a team-leading 11 assists. Jackson Teichroeb has seen a majority of minutes in goal 2.71 goals against average and .904 save percentage.
Canisius took three points during the regular-season series, earning a 3-1 win and a 3-3 tie. Both games were at HarborCenter.
Game Two will be at 7:35 p.m. Saturday with Game Three, if necessary, at 5:05 p.m. Sunday.
Follow along with News Sports Reporter Amy Moritz as well as official team accounts: