It's the most wonderful week of college hockey in Western New York as Canisius and Niagara meet at HarborCenter for two Atlantic Hockey games. While the Purple Eagles dominated parts of the series, which dates back to 1997 as both programs were transitioning to Division I, lately the outcomes have been evenly matched. The senior classes have played each other nine times with the schools splitting the series, 4-4-1. Anything can happen, and anything usually does. Here's the skinny:
Niagara at Canisius
7:35 p.m. Thursday; 3:05 p.m. Saturday
About the Griffs: Canisius split last weekend at RIT to move to 6-8-2 in Atlantic Hockey. The Griffs busted out for 10 goals – their highest two-game total of the season. After starting the season with a trend of trailing in the first period, Canisius has scored the first goal in its last six games going 2-3-1 in that span. Shane Conacher continues to pace the offense. The junior is on a six-game point streak and is the only player in the country with five three-point games. Sophomore Ryan Schmelzer is also on a six-game point streak.
About the Purple Eagles: Niagara lost twice to Mercyhurst last weekend, entering the series with Canisius on a five-game losing streak and in last place in Atlantic Hockey with a 3-10-1 mark. While the wins haven’t followed, the Purple Eagles have turned around scoring chances. Through December, Niagara was being outshot by an average of 7.33 per game (28.25 shots for/35.58 shots against). Since Dec. 1, the Purple Eagles have reversed that, now holding a 7.62 advantage in shots (32.75 for/25.12 against).
Trending: Canisius swept the regular season series last year, winning, 4-1 and 6-4 in Dwyer Arena. The series has been even as of late with the schools splitting nine meetings (4-4-1) since the senior class first arrived on campus for the 2012-13 season.
Stat check: In 35 all-time meetings only four games have gone to overtime with Niagara holding a 1-0-3 advantage. The lone OT win was a 6-5 Purple Eagle victory on Nov. 2, 2010 in the Buffalo State Ice Arena.