A three-point night from junior Shane Conacher and another strong performance from freshman goaltender Simon Hofley helped Canisius to a 4-1 win over Niagara at HarborCenter on Sunday night.
The win clinched the best-of-three first-round series for the Golden Griffins after Niagara had won the opener on Friday night.
Canisius opened the scoring at 10:50 of the second period when Jimmy Mazza started a breakout, hitting a speedy Shane Conacher. The two were joined by Mike Sabatini ina three-on-one break. Conacher accelerated around the Niagara defender, fed a backhand pass to Sabatini who directed the puck in past a sprawling Jackson Teichroeb.
Conacher extended the Canisius about three minutes later on the power play, using the Niagara defense as a screen to fire a puck from the inside the blue line high and past Teichreob.
Niagara had a chance to get back in the game in the third with a power play opportunity, but the Griffs strong penalty kill kept the Purple Eagles off the scoreboard. With energy from that PK, the Griffs added another goal. Freshman defenseman Cameron Heath joined the rush and tapped in a puck. Conacher had the secondary assist for his third point of the night while Ralph Cuddemi set up the goal.
Johnny Curran scored an extra attacker goal with 3:09 left in the third get Niagara on the board. The Purple Eagles again pulled Teichroeb, but David Parrottino scored the empty netter, his first career goal, with 2:36 left give Canisius back its three-goal cushion.
Hofley, who had his first career shutout in the Griffs' 1-0 win on Saturday, made 37 saves for the win.
The 20-20 club: With the power play goal, Conacher became the fourth player in Canisius history to record 20 goals and 20 assists in the same season. The junior has 45 points this season on 20 goals and 25 assists.
Even-steven: The first period couldn't have been much closer. The scoreless 20 minutes featured 10 shots on goal for each team along with nine faceoff wins apiece.
Scratches: Canisius scratched Ian Edmondson, Matt McLeod, Daniel LaFontaine, David Bennett and Josh Supryka. Niagara scratched Devin Campbell, Tanner Lomsnes, Robert Angiolella, Luke Edwards, Sean King, Keegan Harper and Chris Paulin.
Up next: The Griffs improve to 12-20-5 and advance to the quarterfinal round where they will play either No. 2 Air Force or No. 3 Holy Cross, depending upon the outcome of Sunday night’s first-round game between American International and Army. The game will be on the road. Niagara ends its season at 6-25-6.