ROCHESTER -- In about 30 minutes the first semifinal of the Atlantic Hockey championships will kick off at Blue Cross Arena. It's the first showing in the semifinals for Canisius (17-14-5) since 2004 while RIT (24-11-1) is the regular season title holder. The Tigers are on an eight-game winning streak, including two wins over Canisius at the end of February.
RIT defeated the Golden Griffins, 8-0, on Feb. 26 in Rochester. Canisius put up a better showing the next night in a 5-4 loss.
Expect typical playoff hockey -- focus on goaltending and special teams.
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First period: It took the third power play for RIT to finally break through, taking a 1-0 lead when Tyler Brenner tipped a pick right through the legs of Canisius goalie Dan Morrison. Just 52 seconds later, Taylor McReynolds made it 2-0 when Morrison was complete screened. The Tigers dominated the opening period with an 18-6 advantage in shots on goal. But The Griffs will start the second period with 39 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play.
Second period: Another dominating performance by RIT and the Tigers extend their lead to 3-0. The goal came on 11 seconds into a full two-minute 5-on-3 power play for RIT as a perfect passing play set up Andrew Favot with an open net to the right of Morrison.
Third period: Another power play, another tipped puck in front of the net by Brenner with 5:59 left to play nailed the season shut on Canisius. The Tigers win, 4-0. The Griffs were able to get few quality scoring chances and lost the special teams battle. RIT advances to Saturday's championships game at 7 p.m. against the winner of the second semifinal between Air Force and Sacred Heart.
-- Amy Moritz