Canisius scored the first goal. Then they took the lead into the second intermission.
And that's pretty much been a formula for success for the Golden Griffins for the past two seasons.
Thanks to two goals from Matt Hoover, the Griffs earned a 2-1 win over rival Niagara in HarborCenter Friday night to snap a three-game losing streak.
The win secures home ice for the Griffs in the best-of-three quarterfinal series of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs while the loss for Niagara means they will have to play a first-round series, missing the chance to earn a bye.
Canisius is 14-1-1 this season when scoring the first goal of the game and 11-0-0 when leading after two periods.
The success dates back to the 2016-17, when the Griffs won the Atlantic Hockey regular season title. Since the start of last season, Canisius is 31-3-1 when scoring the first goal and 28-0-0 when leading after two.
First goal, second shot: While Niagara carried the first five minutes of the game, thanks in part to an early power play, it was Canisius which scored the opening goal of the game. Sophomore Matt Hoover scored on the Griffs second shot of the game at 7:01 of the first period.
Finishing the break: The Purple Eagles tied the game, 1-1, at 15:59. Derian Plouffe led Niagara on a three-on-two break through the neutral zone. Eric Cooley helped set up the rush and freshman Justin Kendall cashed in, driving the net from the right side to score his third career goal.
Regaining the lead: Hoover scored his second of the game at 10:25 of the second. He was at the left of Niagara goalie Brian Wilson and able to get to a rebound from an awkward corner shot. With Wilson a bit out of position, Hoover was able to fire the puck in the net.
Feisty third: The game got a bit more physical, and a little spicy, in the third -- a usual script for meetings between these teams. Niagara had an excellent scoring opportunity on the power play with 8:48 left in the third. James Roll shot the puck from the left point and Sean King had a tip in front of the net but Canisius goalie Daniel Urbani made the save.
Final minute: Niagara had a great scoring chance with about 40 seconds left and the extra attacker. Canisius defender Jack Stander took a boarding penalty with 33.1 seconds left, giving Niagara a chance with a six-on-four and a faceoff in the Griffs' zone. But the Purple Eagles failed to get a shot off and Canisius cleared the zone to secure the win.
The rivalry: Canisius has now won 11 straight matchups against Niagara. The last time the Purple Eagles defeated Canisius was March 4, 2016 when they notched a 3-2 win over the Griffs in HarborCenter in an Atlantic Hockey playoff game.
Injuries: Canisius senior captain Ryan Schmelzer missed his fifth straight game with an upper body injury. Out since Feb. 9, Schmelzer has 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists). Jeff Murray missed his fourth game after suffering an upper body injury against Army West Point on Feb. 9. Also scratched for the Griffs were David Parrottino, Josh Kielich, David Baskerville, Tucker Weppner, Jesse Pereira, Blake Wareham, and Joshua Gabriel.
For Niagara, Tanner Lomsnes has been out since Jan. 12 with an upper body injury.Also scratched for the Purple Eaglesl were Nic Mucci, Zach Mills, Jack Zielinski, Derek Brown, Tyler Hayes, and David Krejcik.
Up next: The teams end the regular season with a rematch at 7:05 p.m. in Dwyer Arena. The best-of-three first round of the Atlantic Hockey tournament runs March 2-4 at campus sites. The quaterfinal round, also a best-of-three series, is at campus sites March 9-11. The tournament then switches to a one-and-done format in Blue Cross Arena in Rochester with the conference semifinals on March 16 and the championship game on March 17.