Jackson Teichroeb made 31 saves to stop a relentless Canisius attack and Niagara took advantage of its offensive opportunities to earn a 3-2 win at HarborCenter Friday night.
The win puts Niagara up, 1-0, in the Atlantic Hockey first round series.
It was a fast and furious start to the scoring. Canisius opened the scoring at 3:28 on a two-on-one break. Shane Conacher took the shot and Cameron Heath put in the rebound. But just 12 seconds later, Niagara tied the game when Canisius goalie Simon Hofley went behind the net to play the puck and turned it over. Sam Rennaker scored in the empty net.
The Purple Eagles took a 2-1 lead at 7:56 as a shot from the point by Larry Smith was redirected by Albin Karlsson and bounced by Canisius goalie Simon Hofley.
The lead went to 3-1 at 8:49 of the second when Stanislav Dzakhov perfectly placed a puck in the upper right corner off a pass from Dan Kolenda.
Canisius got one back at 12:37 when Dylan McLaughlin's high shot from the blue line made it through traffic as the Griffs worked a 5-on-3 power play.
Shots: The Griffs trailed on the scoreboard but carried the pace of play for the majority of the first 20 minutes. They held a 14-5 advantage in shots. Consider also that Niagara blocked 10 Canisius shots in the opening period. Overall Canisius held a 33-17 advantage in shots.
Records: Niagara improved to 6-23-6 while Canisius fell to 10-20-5.
Third time’s the charm: Niagara won its first Atlantic Hockey postseason meeting with Canisius. In the previous two times they’ve met in the conference playoffs, the Griffs have won, knocking the Purple Eagles out of the first round in 2011 and defeating them in the semifinals in 2013.
Delayed start: The game, scheduled for 7:35, did not start until 8:20 as the College Hockey America women's semifinal between Syracuse and Penn State went to triple overtime. The CHA is under the same administration as Atlantic Hockey and wanted the women's tournament to be at a neutral site. The championship game between Syracuse (3-2 triple OT winners) and Mercyhurst will be at 3 p.m. in HarborCenter Saturday.
Scratches: Canisius scratched forwards Matt McLeod, Daniel LaFontaine and Josh Supryka and defensemen Mathew Backhous and David Bennett. Niagara scratched Devin Campbell, Tanner Lomsnes, Robert Angiolella, Luke Edwards, Sean King, Keegan Harper and Chris Paulin.
Up next: The teams meet again in Game Two of the best-of-three series at 7:35 p.m. Saturday in HarborCenter. If necessary, Game Three will be at 5:05 p.m. Sunday.