"It is a great win for our program today with it all being on the line to get to the MAAC Championship," said Canisius head coach Randy Mearns. "Our first goal of the season is now accomplished. I couldn't be happier and more proud of our seniors and proud for our whole team. They showed a lot of resolve and character once again."
Junior Mike Moran set the tone for the Griffs right from the start and continued to dominate throughout the contest from the faceoff X. The junior won 14-of-16 faceoffs in the winning effort (87.5 percent), turning in the best performance by a Griff in the last nine seasons. Moran also collected a career-best 11 ground balls in the tournament-clinching victory.
A trio of seniors led the way on the offensive end for Canisius, helping the Griffs earn a MAAC Tournament bid for the first time in their collegiate careers. Travis Gibbons netted a game-high three goals, recording the fifth hat trick of his senior campaign. Simon Giourmetakis registered three points on a goal and two assists, while classmate Jimmy Haney also posted multiple points with a goal and an assist.
Freshman Tim Edwards rounded out the scoring for Canisius with two tallies on the afternoon.
Senior Sean Callahan anchored the Canisius defense to the victory. The senior netminder stopped 11-of-16 shots on goal that he faced to backstop the team to the MAAC Tournament.
"It was a complete team effort today," Mearns said. "Mike Moran was phenomenal on faceoffs. (Seniors) Nico Capron, Brendan Murphy and Ryan O'Hagan along with freshmen Kevin Collins and Adam Donner really held the fort at the poles and the defensive-midfielders were tremendous. Sean Callahan was stellar and net, while Travis Gibbons, Simon Giourmetakis and Jimmy Haney made the most of their opportunities with Tim Edwards having another outstanding performance.
"Coach Burke put in a great defensive game plan that the boys executed and Coach Lalley had the boys prepared offensively. Coach Kawalerski also ran a flawless box and it is just a great day. We now turn our focus to Detroit and hope to continue our strong performances as of late into next week."
The teams both netted two goals in the first quarter and added a third score early in the second frame for a 3-3 contest. However, the Canisius defense clamped down from there in earning the tournament-clinching win. After Marist knotted the game at three with 11:53 remaining in the second stanza, the Griffs allowed only one tally in nearly 41 minutes of action, including a 29:07 scoreless streak as Canisius built its lead.
Gibbons broke the 3-3 deadlock for the Griffs, completing his hat trick with 10:54 remaining in the second quarter. Gibbons' tally would also give Canisius the lead for good. A 4-3 halftime lead was stretched to three in the third quarter after Haney netted a man-up goal and Edwards netted his first tally of the day for a 6-3 lead after 45 minutes of action.
The Red Foxes (6-7, 3-3 MAAC) pulled to within two with 12:46 left but Edwards added his second goal 70 seconds later. The Griffs held the 7-4 lead until the final minute of play when Marist gained one score back. The Red Foxes, however, were unable to get any closer thanks to Callahan's performance in net. Marist fired three shots toward goal in the final minute of play but none would find its way past Callahan as the senior netminder sealed the 7-5 victory.
Marist finished the contest with a 37-20 advantage in shots. Five different players netted goals for the Red Foxes, while Craig Goodermote recorded eight saves in net.
The Griffs and Titans will now meet in the MAAC Semifinals on Friday. Detroit used a late 6-0 run to earn a 17-12 victory over Canisius earlier in the 2012 campaign. Game time on the campus of Marist is set for 4:30 p.m.
Game Notes: Moran's 87.5 faceoff winning percentage is the highest by a Griff with at least 12 faceoff attempts since Mark Miyashita won 18-of-19 restarts (94.7 percent) against Marist on March 22, 2003 ... Since earning a win in their first trip to Poughkeepsie in 1992, the Griffs had lost their last eight games at Marist ... It marked only the fourth time in 19 all-time meetings between the two MAAC schools that the road team was victorious, including the second time in the last three years ... Canisius, who finished with a three-way tie for third place, had missed out on the MAAC Tournament in each of the last two seasons on tiebreakers ... Canisius is 4-0 this season when outscoring its opponent in the second half.