BUFFALO – Junior Ryan Schmelzer scored with 1:15 remaining in the third period to break a 1-1 tie and lift top-seeded Canisius to a 2-1 victory over No. 11 seed Niagara in game two of their Atlantic Hockey Tournament quarterfinal series Saturday at KeyBank Rink in HARBORCENTER.
With the win, the Griffs (21-10-7) swept the best-of-three series and advanced to the Atlantic Hockey Tournament semifinals March 17 at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. The win also extended Canisius’ unbeaten streak, the longest active untbeaten streak in the nation, to 17 games dating back to early January.
Schmelzer’s series-clinching tally punctuated a dramatic third period that saw all three goals scored during the frame while teams were on the power play.
Sophomore Felix Chamberland broke the scoreless deadlock at the 3:06 mark of the third, one-timing a feed from Schmelzer past Niagara keeper Jackson Teichreob from the left faceoff circle during a Canisius rush.
Vinny Muto tied the game at 1-1 for Niagara a little less than five minutes later. During a 5-on-3 advantage for the Purple Eagles, Muto where wired a wrist shot through traffic from the top of the faceoff circles that found the upper right corner of the net.
Schmelzer put the Griffs in front for good at the 18:45 mark of the third, deflecting a shot from sophomore Jimmy Mazza past Teichreob from the middle of the slot to send Canisius onto the semifinal round.
Senior Charles Williams made 25 saves in goal for Canisius while Teichreob stopped 32 shots between the pipes for Niagara (5-31-3).
Head Coach Dave Smith’s Postgame Comments
“That was a hard game tonight. I liked the way we got better as the game went on. I thought we got better as the weekend went on. It took all 60 minutes to get the win tonight.
“Our success is a statement about the Canisius community. It’s not just the hockey program; it’s not just the athletic department; it’s everyone associated with Canisius College. What we’ve been able to do, both this season and in recent years, takes the entire Canisius community to say hockey is important. They have; and our players have backed up that support with the results on the ice.”
- Canisius won its sixth contest against Niagara this season as the Griffs swept both the regular season and poststeason series from the Purple Eagles. Canisius has also won eight straight against Niagara, dating back to the end of the 2015-16 season.
- Canisius improved to 6-1 against Niagara in postseason play all-time. The two programs met for the second consecutive campaign in the postseason.
- Canisius advances to the semifinal round of the Atlantic Hockey Tournament for the fourth time in the last five seasons (2013, 2014, 2015).
- The Griffs matched the program mark for wins in a season with their 21st victory of the season on Saturday, equaling the totals from the 1986-87 and 1999-2000 campaigns.
- Canisius finished the 2016-17 campaign with an 11-2-5 mark at home. The Griffs were 7-0-1 in their last eight games at HARBORCENTER.
- The Griffs were 2-for-6 on the power play on Saturday as they recorded a power play goal for the 15th time in the last 16 games.
- Canisius improved to 17-0-0 against Atlantic Hockey schools when scoring the first goal of the game.
- Junior Ryan Schmelzer scored his fifth game-winning goal of the season with his third-period tally, putting him in a four-way tie for second on the school’s single-season game-winning goals list.
- Senior Charles Williams established a school mark for longest shutout streak by a Canisius goaltender as he went 209:33 between goals allowed. He surpassed the previous mark set by Andrew Loewen (201:00) during the 2007-08 campaign.
- Sophomore Felix Chamberland scored his seventh power play goal of the season with his third-period goal, moving him into a tie for first place on the team in that category.
- Sophomore Jimmy Mazza recorded a point for the third straight contest with his assist on Schmelzer’s game-winning goal.
- Canisius advances to the semifinals of the Atlantic Hockey Tournament, slated for March 17 at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. The Griffs will face the lowest remaining seed at the conclusion of the quarterfinal round in the first semifinal, scheduled for 4:30 p.m
- The winner of Friday’s two semifinal contests will square off in the championship game March 18 at 7:05 p.m.