LEWISTON – A third-period push helped Canisius to a 3-2 win over Niagara in Atlantic Hockey action in Dwyer Arena Friday night.
Trailing, 2-1, the Golden Griffins tied the game with 12:11 left on a goal from Dylan McLaughlin.
Then with 9:40 left Niagara goaltender Brian Wilson went behind the net and played the puck around the boards. Nick Hutchison intercepted the pass, skated to the net, and scored while Wilson scrambled to get back in position.
Niagara had an opportunity with 1:06 left in regulation when Jimmy Mazza was called for delay of game for pushing the net off. With the goalie pulled, Niagara had a 6-on-4, but lost possession of the puck and Ryan Schmelzer threw the puck down the ice for an empty net goal to secure the win.
It was the ninth straight win for the Griffs over Niagara and jumps them into first place in Atlantic Hockey with a 9-4-0 mark. The Purple Eagles, who were ranked 20th in this week's USCHO.com poll, are a point back in the standings at 8-3-1.
First goal: Niagara got on the board first at 8:23 of the first with a power play goal. Senior Derian Plouffe fired a shot from the faceoff circle and beat Canisius goalie Daniel Urbani.
Getting the goal back: Canisius countered with a power play of its own at 11:08. After a few shots, and a few rebounds, defenseman Jimmy Mazza beat Wilson to tie the game, 1-1. It was the first power play goal allowed by Niagara in four games. The Purple Eagles' penalty killing units had been on a 17-for-17 streak.
Big hit, big penalty: With eight minutes left in the first period, Canisius senior David Bennett got his shoulder to the head of Niagara freshman Eric Cooley in an open-ice hit just inside the Canisius blueline. Bennett was a given a five-minute major and a game misconduct. His teammates stepped up on the penalty kill, limiting Niagara to a handful of quality scoring chances and keeping the Purple Eagles off the board.
Upon further review: The Purple Eagles had two potential goals reviewed in a six-second span in the second. Tanner Lomsnes fired a rebound at Urbani, who made a spectacular save. The play with 10:54 left in the period was upheld. Six seconds later, Plouffe went behind the net and tucked the puck past Urbani. Called a goal on the ice, it was overturned after the officials viewed the replay and ruled the net had come off before the puck crossed the line.
This one counts: Niagara finally took the lead, 2-1, with 4:55 left in the second with a power play goal from Sean King.
Tying it up: Dylan McLaughlin scored for Canisius with 12:11 left in the the third to tie the game, 2-2.
All-time record: Canisius takes a 22-21-4 all-time lead in the series.
Last Niagara win: The Purple Eagles last defeated Canisius on March 4, 2016 in the first game of an Atlantic Hockey tournament series. Canisius won the next two to advance and eliminate Niagara.
It's been even longer since the Purple Eagles beat their rival on home ice. This was the first win against the Golden Griffins in Dwyer since a 6-4 win on Oct. 12, 2013.
Attendance: There were 1,452 in Dwyer Arena Friday night, the first sellout on Monteagle Ridge since Nov. 16, 2013.
Old tradition, new twist: Instead of "Chuck-A-Puck" at the second intermission, Niagara introduced "Chuck-A-Chicken." Fans threw rubber chickens, instead of rubber pucks, on the ice as The Anchor Bar came on as the intermission sponsor.
Scratches: Niagara scratched Stan Dzakhov, Larry Smith, Sam Rennaker, Nick Mucci, Kris Srpiggs, Sam Fuss, Jack Zielinski, and Joe O'Brien. Canisius scratched David Parrottino, Matt McLeod, Josh Kielich, David Baskerville, Matt Long, Logan Gestro, Tucker Weppner, Black Wareham, and Joshua Gabriel.
Up next: The rematch moves to Buffalo at 4:35 p.m. Saturday with the teams meeting in HarborCenter.