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They pushed them around. Held them down. Bumped them off the puck.

Basically, Canisius muscled its way to a 4-3 win over Niagara (13-15-4) in front of a sellout crowd of 1,500 at the Amherst Pepsi Center on Tuesday.

"They played a football game out there," Niagara forward John Heffernan said. "They did what they had to do to win and we did not respond physically."

"We knew their speed," Canisius forward Brad Kenny said. "If we didn't get on them, we knew they could blow right by us. We knew we had to be physical to slow them down."

And that's just what the Ice Griffs do day after day -- beat down their opponent with hard hits and pesky whacks.

"I think one thing Canisius has been known for in the 20 years I've been here is that we always come out and play with grit and determination," said Ice Griffs coach Brian Cavanaugh. "We take pride in going out and working hard."

While Cavanaugh praised the efforts of both teams, his counterpart at Niagara wasn't nearly so kind with the analysis of his own team.

"We had a team of passive, non-competitive, non-gutsy players and they had men who came ready to play," Niagara coach Blaise MacDonald said. "They outplayed us in every phase of the game. If we had half the grit and determination that Canisius has, we'd have won 25 games. . . . We have the talent to be successful but zero of the intangibles."

The Ice Griffs (14-10-3) not only had all the intangibles on Tuesday, they also had special teams success.

Canisius was 2 for 3 on the power play with a short-handed goal. As per usual, Canisius took a slew of penalties, but the Purple Eagles failed to convert, going 2 for 8 on the power play.

"We knew that special teams would be crucial," Canisius' Kenny said. "That was going to be the difference in the game. If they converted on some of their chances and if we went 0-fer on the power play, we wouldn't have won."

Niagara dominated the game early. The Purple Eagles, who held a 13-6 shots advantage in the first period, took a 1-0 lead when Rob Bumbaco lifted a rebound past an out-of-position Stephen Fabiilli, the Griffs' goaltender.

Canisius countered with a power-play goal when David Deeves picked up a loose puck behind the net, jamming it past Niagara goalie Scott Lindsay.

The goal woke up the Ice Griffs, who picked up their physical play, pushing Niagara around at every opportunity.

They continued to beat on the Purple Eagles in the second period, limiting Niagara's offensive opportunities while converting hard hits into their own scoring chances.

Chris Duggan scored a short-handed goal after Kenny blocked Mike Bozoian's shot from the point. Lindsay played the puck too aggressively and Duggan had an open net for the wrap-around shot.

Kenny got his own goal with 1:22 left in the second to give the Ice Griffs a commanding 3-1 lead.

Niagara kept the game interesting in the third period when Thomas Clayton scored on the power play, but Canisius answered with its own power-play tally 44 seconds later by Marc Bouffard.

The Purple Eagles refused to go away as Bernie Sigrist again brought Niagara within one, scoring on a two-man advantage with six and a half minutes left in the game, but the Eagles could muster no further scoring.

Fabiilli made 36 saves to earn the win while Lindsay made 13 saves, facing just 17 shots.

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