"It was a pretty even hockey game tonight where Holy Cross just created a couple more chances and was able to capitalize on them," said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. "We need to be a little better in a couple of areas if we want it to go our way tomorrow."
Seniors Chris Forsman and Vincent Scarsella and freshman Kyle Gibbons each scored for Canisius in the defeat, while junior Dan Morrison recorded 24 saves for the Griffs.
Canisius opened the scoring, connecting with 8:50 remaining in the first period. Gibbons blocked a Holy Cross shot, skated down the ice and sent a puck in from the blue line that found the back of the net. The rookie's eighth goal of the season gave the Griffs an early 1-0 advantage.
The momentum would quickly change toward Holy Cross' side in the beginning of the second stanza. After Canisius had a shot hit the post, the Crusaders answered with a pair of goals 150 seconds apart. Kyle Fletcher knotted the game at one before Matt Clune gave Holy Cross the lead with a goal off a rebound.
Canisius responded shortly later with a goal of its own when Forsman scored off a wrist shot from the boards to knot the game at two 6:12 into the second frame. Seniors Pat Kenney and Derek Danowski both registered an assist on the score.
The Crusaders reclaimed the lead for good, scoring another goal early in the period. Adam Schmidt fired a shot in from the blue line 1:31 into the third to give Holy Cross a 3-2 advantage.
The Griffs nearly knotted the game with just over seven minutes remaining in regulation but senior Eric Rex had his one-timer ring off the post. Holy Cross then added a power-play goal with 5:37 left in the game for the 4-2 lead.
Canisius fought back and cut its lead in half when Scarsella netted his 13th goal of the season with 4:14 left in regulation. The senior cleaned up a rebound off a shot from senior Scott Jenks to bring the Griffs within one, 4-3. Sophomore Torrey Lindsay also registered an assist on the goal.
Holy Cross, however, would seal the win with two goals in the final minute of regulation. Shayne Stockton scored with 58 seconds left and Rob Linsmayer added an empty-net goal with 28 ticks remaining.
The Crusaders outshot the Griffs, 30-25, on the evening. Holy Cross was also 1-for-3 on the power play, while killing all four of Canisius' extra-man opportunities. Adam Roy recorded 22 saves to earn the victory in goal for the Crusaders.
The teams meet tomorrow night in game two of the Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals. The elimination game for Canisius is set to begin at 7:05 p.m.
Game Notes: The start of the game was delayed 40 minutes to an ammonia spill ... The Griffs lost for the first time this season when leading after one period (7-1-1) ... It marked the first time in 13 games that the team that scored first in a Canisius game lost the contest ... Holy Cross extended the nation's longest unbeaten streak to 12 games (9-0-3) and improves to 5-0-2 in its last seven contests against Canisius.