"It's a great playoff series win where all 19 players were committed to playing physical, blocking shots and playing at a high pace against a good and skilled Bentley team," said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. "Our penalty kill and goaltending, which have been really strong all season, really rose to the occasion at the biggest time of the year."
Sophomore Cody Freeman scored both goals for Canisius to lead the Griffs to the win.
Junior Tony Capobianco anchored the defense with 35 saves on the night. The junior stopped 70-of-71 shots during the two-game sweep over the weekend.
After a scoreless first period, Freeman got the Griffs on the scoreboard with his ninth tally of the season at the 14:36 mark of the second. From his own zone, sophomore defender Logan Roe bounced the puck off the boards and to junior Kyle Gibbons at the Falcons' blue line, who had gotten past the Bentley defender. Gibbons then fired a shot on net and Freeman was there to knock the rebound in for the 1-0 lead.
Freeman then added a second goal on the night and his 10th of the season, scoring seconds after a disallowed tally by the Falcons. Bentley seemingly tied the game at one but the referee immediately signaled that it was deflected in with a high stick. With the faceoff moving to the other end, Canisius won the draw and Freeman tipped a shot from Gibbons in for the 2-0 lead. Sophomore Stephen Farrell also registered an assist on the goal with 59 seconds remaining in the second period.
Bentley cut its deficit in half with its first goal of the weekend with 4:40 remaining in regulation. Andrew Gladiuk found the back of the net off a deflected shot out front for the 2-1 score. However, the Griffs defense denied the equalizing tally as Canisius completed the two-game sweep.
Canisius held a slight advantage in shots on the night, 37-36, with both teams going scoreless in five power-play attempts.
Branden Komm recorded 35 saves for the Falcons in the loss.
The Griffs now advance to face Air Force next weekend in Colorado for a best 2-of-3 quarterfinal series. The schools are set to begin the series on Friday at 9:05 p.m. ET.
Game Notes: The win was the 100th in the career of Dave Smith ... Freeman now has 14 points (9g, 5a) in his last 14 games after recording seven points in the first 38 games of his career ... Gibbons has recorded multiple points in four-straight contests ... After this weekend, the home team is now 28-1 all-time in Atlantic Hockey series with Canisius earning the lone win as the road team (vs. Mercyhurst in 2010) ... The Griffs won back-to-back games against Bentley for the first time since Feb. 20, 2004 and Nov. 5, 2004 ... Canisius held Atlantic Hockey's top scorer during the regular season, Brett Gensler, without a point in the series ... Air Force went 2-0-1 against the Griffs this season.