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Canisius beats Niagara in hockey playoff opener

Charles Williams of Canisius led the nation’s in save percentage (.944) entering the opener of the Golden Griffins’ playoff series against Niagara on Friday night.

The number got even better when Williams was finished with the game.

The senior earned his sixth shutout, stopping 24 shots, as Canisius picked up a 3-0 win over the Purple Eagles at HarborCenter. The six shutouts lead the NCAA.

The Golden Griffins have gone 16 games without a loss. That is not only the longest active unbeaten streak in the nation, but it’s now the longest streak by any team this season. Denver had a 15-game unbeaten streak earlier this season.

Jackson Teichroeb was almost as good for Niagara. He had 36 saves.

Canisius scored a goal in each of the periods. Jimmy Mazza scored the only goal the Griffins needed at 14:57 of the first period. Dylan McLaughlin – the team’s leading scorer – made it 2-0 early in the second period, while Nick Hutchison completed the scoring at 1:48 of the third.

Canisius finished 1 for 5 on the power play, while Niagara was 0 for 3 with the extra man.

The win put the Golden Griffins in good shape in terms of advancing in the quarterfinal round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs. Canisius will have two chances to eliminate the Purple Eagles in the best-of-three series. The first will come tonight at 8:05 at HarborCenter. If the Griffins fall short then, they’ll have another chance at 6:35 p.m. at the same facility.

The winner advances to the Atlantic Hockey semifinal on March 17 in Blue Cross Arena in Rochester. The championship game will be played the next night.

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