Watertown, Mass. – Brett Switzer scored 40 seconds into overtime to lead Bentley to a 4-3 victory over the Canisius College hockey team in game one of the Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals on Saturday night. The loss drops the Griffs to 14-20-3 on the season, while the Falcons improve to 19-12-4
On a rush, a deflected shot went right to Switzer in front and he tapped it in for the game-winning tally just 40 seconds into the extra session.
“It was a really good hockey game tonight where we just missed taking the lead in the series,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “Bentley got a fortunate bounce for the game-winning goal but I thought physically, we controlled the game after the first 10 minutes. We really stepped up our play and showed great intensity. We just have to repeat it and bring the same game tomorrow.”
Senior Patrick Sullivan led the Griffs with two tallies on the night, while junior Tyler Wiseman also scored for Canisius.
Senior Tony Capobianco finished the game with 27 saves in net.
Bentley grabbed the early advantage in the contest, opening the scoring with a power-play goal just 2:46 into the game. Alex Grieve deflected a shot from the point into the net for the 1-0 lead. The Falcons then doubled their advantage to two when Derek Bacon’s shot from the right face-off circle found the back of the net with 11:12 remaining in the first.
Canisius cut its deficit in half before the end of the first when Sullivan netted his 11th goal of the season. The senior finished off a rush when junior Cody Freeman found his linemate open with a cross-ice pass through the slot. Senior Kyle Gibbons also registered an assist on the goal with 6:14 left in the period.
The Griffs carried their momentum into the second period and controlled the play throughout the 20 minutes. Canisius outshot the Falcons, 17-4, during the first 14 minutes of the frame but couldn’t find the back of the net. Junior Mitch McCrank and freshman Shane Conacher had back-to-back chances five minutes into the period but were stopped both times by the Bentley netminder. Conacher then had a great look on the power play but drew pipe.
Canisius was finally able to take advantage of its sustained possession in the third, scoring two goals in the first six minutes to grab its first lead, 3-2. Wiseman pulled the Griffs even with his sixth goal of the season. Senior Taylor Law made a move in the left face-off circle to shed a Bentley defender and then fed the puck to Wiseman on the other side, who buried his chance high for the 2-2 game. Junior defender Doug Jessey also registered an assist on the goal 3:39 into the frame.
Sullivan then gave the Griffs the lead just over two minutes later, taking advantage of a long Canisius possession in the Bentley zone. The senior took advantage and hammered the puck in from close range for the 3-2 Canisius lead with 14:01 remaining in regulation. Law and Wiseman both registered assists on the go-ahead tally.
Bentley, however, did not give up and finally broke through with just 23.2 seconds remaining. With the goalie pulled, Brett Gensler slipped the puck through from the low slot off a pass from behind the net for a 3-3 contest through 60 minutes of action, setting up Switzer’s heroics in overtime.
Bentley finished the game with a slight edge in shots, 31-30. The Falcons were also 1-for-4 on the power play, while Canisius was scoreless in two extra-man chances.
The Griffs now face a must-win situation in game two tomorrow. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m.
Game Notes: The loss ended the Griffs’ eight-game winning streak in the postseason … It marked the second time that Sullivan scored two goals in a postseason game (also scored two in game one of the Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals last season against Air Force) … Canisius has played an overtime game in six of the last seven postseasons, going 3-3 in the six games … The Griffs top line of Freeman, Gibbons and Sullivan has scored six of the team’s 10 postseason goals and been on the ice for seven of the tallies.