The Atlantic Hockey Playoffs are just around the corner and the push for home advantage in the first round is on. With Mercyhurst and Bentley playing against each other this weekend, the boys knew we had a chance to get back in the hunt. Beginning the weekend three points back of fourth place, we knew that our destiny was still in our own hands.
It seems that every year around this time, teams around the league, us included, are glued to the internet to see how other teams have prevailed. With all the teams in the Atlantic Hockey Association making playoffs, the watch is not so much about whether you are still in the playoff race or not. Rather it is will you be hosting those critical games or will you be traveling in the upcoming week. Home ice advantage is a lot more than just the opportunity to play in front of your own fans (while that alone is a huge incentive with the support of our C-Block fan base). Getting the opportunity to sleep in your own bed, eat familiar food and stick to your pre-game routine are really important to many of the Griffs as we head into the most crucial part of the season. Also having the ‘last change’ option as the home team can be one of the key elements to building a successful game plan for our coaching staff, as it allows us to match lines with the other team and to take necessary rest between shifts.
This past weekend the pressure for home ice advantage was on for both Mercyhurst and the Golden Griffins of Canisius. Both teams took the first game of our weekend sets and with the right outcome, we had a chance to move ahead of Bentley on the second night and into fourth position. Needless to say, the Hockey Gods were not on our side Saturday night. While the game between Bentley and Mercyhurst was out of our control we knew we had to take care of business ourselves.
Picking up right where we had left off the night before, the team jumped out to the lead in the first period. Keeping the foot on the gas pedal, the men pushed forth hoping to get a little breathing room. That was not the case on this night. Trading goals back and forth, we found ourselves all tied up yet again, looking forward to overtime to determine a winner. With both teams being assessed a penalty shortly before regulation time had run out, we found ourselves playing 4-on-4 at the beginning of overtime. Similar to the night before but with a different outcome, overtime would not make it past the first-minute mark. The University of Connecticut would be victorious on this night.
As we climbed back on the bus to head back to Buffalo, the men began to reach for their cell phones and began crunching numbers. With a Bentley win and a Griffin loss, we find ourselves in the same position we were in at the beginning of the weekend, three points out of home ice position.
Using the day off to do some much-needed catch up on homework, the Griffins now know that a sweep in the upcoming week is a must. Mathematically we are not out of the hunt for home ice and with a little luck the men still know that when there is a will, there is a way.
This is your captain here, over and out.
Campus Chronicles and additional Canisius hockey coverage can be found each week in the Buffalo and Niagara area in the Metro Source. For previous entries plus additional Canisius features, visit Metro Source's website by clicking here