Well folks - big news coming out of Canisius this week. For the first time in six years the Ice Griffs are off to the conference finals of Atlantic Hockey. The final four teams left standing after the Atlantic hockey playoff quarterfinals, are RIT, Sacred Heart, Air Force and of course, the Griffs.
The two semifinals will be played this Friday in Rochester at the Blue Cross Arena. We will be facing off against the number-one seed RIT Tigers in the first semifinal, while in the second matchup it is the number two-seeded Sacred Heart Pioneers against the number three-seeded Air Force Falcons. The Falcons have been a mainstay in the conference tournament since Atlantic Hockey has gone to this format.
We got to this point thanks to a minor upset of the Mercyhurst Lakers this past weekend. We won the quarterfinals best-of-three series two games to none in thrilling fashion with a double overtime victory in game two. It was an extremely tough series down in Erie and both teams had several chances to win the game in overtime but both goalies played well, which is usually the case in playoff hockey.
It was a big win for us against a rival, and it was a little extra special for most of the guys who were here in 2008, when our season was ended in overtime by the Lakers. The Lakers were a great test and hopefully the experienced gained in that series will help us on Friday night as we take on another rival in the Tigers, who are pretty much playing a home game.
With that in mind we have only have a few busy days to prepare for the regular season champs. We will go through our usual routine of practices, workouts and class before we depart for Rochester on Thursday morning. Once in Rochester, we will practice Thursday afternoon and then go to the Atlantic Hockey Banquet that same night. There are a few Griffs up for some awards and hopefully a few of the boys will be recognized for their hard work this season.
After Thursday night, the focus shifts to 4 p.m. on Friday when the puck drops between us and the Tigers. This is a special week for all of the teams involved because with two wins, the winner of the tournament is crowned Atlantic Hockey Champs and earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. With that, there is not much else going on except for the wait to get it underway on Friday, and Friday can't come soon enough. As always thanks again to all of the fans, families and friends who came out to support us this past weekend, and until next time, keep your stick on the ice.
Chris Forsman, #4