In my experience of four hockey seasons here at Canisius, I have never seen our team more focused on and off the ice than I did this past week. It seemed as though every conversation we had together at school, or at the rink, revolved around our upcoming game on the weekend. On top of this, we had a great week of practice, and we were more than ready for the task at hand.
On Saturday night, the team headed to Lewiston to take on Niagara University. It was the fourth time we faced off this year, but this time the game was worth much more. No matter who came out on top the three times prior, it all came down to this game, as the winner would move on and the loser's season would be over. Across the Atlantic Hockey league, six other teams met to play in the same type of game to decide who would move on to the quarterfinals.
We knew before the game that if we played to our potential, we would be successful. Before the game, the team talked about taking it period-by-period. Our immediate focus was the first 20 minutes.
Right off of the first faceoff, the tone of the game was set as both teams were playing as if there was no tomorrow. We struck early in the first period and controlled most of the play, but in the last minute of the period, the Purple Eagles got on the board. When a team scores late in the period like that, it usually gives them a boost of momentum to carry into the next period. After talking in the locker room, the boys got on the same page and decided that we would dictate the pace for the rest of the game and came out in the second period flying.
We scored four goals in the second period and took a commanding lead in the game. Going back into the locker room for the second intermission, the team chatted once again about the game plan for the following period. Being respectful of the talent of our opponents, we knew that nothing in our play could change and that we had to keep the pedal to the metal. The message was simple. Win a period, win a game - and that's exactly what we did.
In front of an amazing turnout from our great fans, friends and families who made the trip, the Golden Griffins defeated the Purple Eagles and moved on to the next round of playoffs. Not only was it special to move on the next round, but was even better for it to be through a win over our school-wide rivals.
Although we are obviously very happy about our win on the weekend, the game is behind us and our focus is now on a new opponent. Our next step is to travel to Worcester, Massachusetts to take on the Holy Cross Crusaders in a best-of-three series in the Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals. We go into this weekend feeling confident, but also feeling just as focused as we did last week. Getting back to the Atlantic Hockey Semifinals will be no easy task, but I know that all 25 players in our locker room are up to the task.
See you at the rink,
Scott Jenks, #3