"The on-ice loss is painful because we were so close," said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. "The physical and emotional investment made by the nine seniors is incredible. The pain of this loss will go away but the positive contributions of the nine will continue to be a big part of our program."
Seniors Cory Conacher, Scott Jenks and Vincent Scarsella each scored in their final game as Golden Griffins. With his tally, Conacher set the program's single-season goals record by registering his 23rd of the season.
Junior goaltender Dan Morrison recorded 26 saves on the night.
The Crusaders once again jumped out to an early lead, scoring two goals in the final 70 seconds of the first period. Jeffrey Reppucci fired a shot in from the blue line with 1:10 left for the 1-0 advantage and Everett Sheen then knocked in a loose puck after a wrap-around attempt with 37.7 seconds remaining for the 2-0 edge after one.
Canisius pulled to within after taking advantage of a five-minute major penalty called on Holy Cross. Scarsella sent a wrist shot in from the slot for 14th goal of the season and seventh power-play tally. Freshman Ben Danford and sophomore Preston Shupe each registered an assist on the goal at the 7:12 mark.
Holy Cross was able to reclaim its two-goal advantage, scoring late in the period once again. Kyle Fletcher made a move to beat a Canisius defender and then scored 1-on-1 for the 3-1 lead with 1:59 left in the frame.
Canisius then rallied from a two-goal deficit to tie the game for the second-straight night, scoring two goals in the first six minutes of the third. Jenks scored off a wrist shot from the point just 1:31 into the final period of play. Conacher and Scarsella both posted assist on the goal.
Conacher then knotted the game with 14:03 left in regulation. Scarsella fed his classmate on a rush and Conacher finished for his record-setting goal. Shupe posted his second assist of the night on the tally.
Holy Cross, however, would answer back with two goals just 19 seconds apart. Shayne Stockton was able to beat a Canisius defender and then got the puck past Morrison for the game-winning score with 10:08 remaining in the game. Fletcher then scored his second goal of the night, redirecting a wide shot into the back of the net with 9:49 left in the third. The Crusaders then sealed the victory with two empty-net goals in the final 1:17 of the contest.
The Crusaders held a 33-23 advantage in shots on the night, thanks to a 16-6 edge in the first period. Both teams converted one power-play opportunity with four chances for the Griffs and two for Holy Cross. Adam Roy finished the night with 20 saves to earn the victory for the Crusaders.
Holy Cross now advances to play Air Force in the Atlantic Hockey Semifinals next Friday.
Game Notes: Conacher finished his career with program records in points (147), goals (62) and game-winning goals (12) ... The Burlington, Ontario native also owns the program's single-season records in points (53) and assists (33), set during his junior season, to go along with his goals record ... Conacher broke a tie with Chris Duggan (1998-99) for the most goals in a single season during Canisius' Division I era ... Scarsella played in his 144th career game, setting a new school mark. Scarsella broke a tie with former teammate Dave Cianfrini for the most appearances in the program's record book ... Scarsella raised his career-high totals in goals (14) and power-play tallies (7) ... His seven power-play goals as a senior matched his total from his first three seasons combined ... The loss ended the college careers of nine players - Conacher, Jenks, Scarsella, Taylor Anderson, Derek Danowski, Chris Forsman, Pat Kenney, captain Phil Rauch and Eric Rex.