Rochester, N.Y. – Junior defender Stephen Farrell scored his first goal of the season 13:30 into the second overtime of the Atlantic Hockey Semifinal to lift the Canisius College hockey team to a 5-4 victory over top-seeded Mercyhurst on Friday night. The Griffs now advance to their second-straight conference title game with a 17-20-3 record, while the Lakers’ season ends with a 21-13-7 mark.
Deep into the second extra frame, Farrell fired a shot from the blue line that deflected off a Mercyhurst defender and into the net. Junior Logan Roe and sophomore Ralph Cuddemi both recorded assists on Farrell’s fourth goal in his three-year career at Canisius.
“It was a great hockey game tonight where both teams played really well and it was unfortunate somebody had to lose,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “We had to play our best today to beat the regular-season champions and a well-coached and highly-skilled team. The bounce went in our favor tonight in overtime and I look forward to regrouping and trying to win another title tomorrow.”
Cuddemi led the Griffs with two goals in the winning effort to go along with one assist for three points, while senior Patrick Sullivan and junior Mitch McCrank both netted a goal of their own.
Senior Tony Capobianco set the program’s postseason record with a career-best 58 saves to earn the victory in goal.
The Griffs grabbed the early advantage in the game thanks to Cuddemi’s 14th goal of the season 7:40 into the contest. Senior defender Duncan McKellar sent a shot toward goal from the blue line. McCrank redirected the puck in the high slot and Cuddemi then redirected it a second time, sending it into the back of the net for the 1-0 advantage.
Mercyhurst squared the game at one exactly two minutes later. From the corner, Alec Shields sent a centering pass that deflected off a Canisius defender in front of the net and into the goal for the 1-1 game. The Lakers then claimed their first lead with just 2:56 remaining in the opening period when Nick Jones scored from the point on the power play.
Cuddemi’s second goal of the day knotted the contest at two just 1:19 into the second period. The sophomore beat the Mercyhurst netminder off a rush short side for the 2-2 game. Freshman Shane Conacher registered an assist on Cuddemi’s 15th goal of the season.
The Lakers, however, would again reclaim their advantage when Shields scored his second of the day with 8:57 left in the second. A pass from behind the net deflected off a stick and went off Shields into the net for the 3-2 lead.
Sullivan would answer for Canisius this time with his 13th goal of the season. Junior defender Doug Jessey sent a blast from the blue line that senior Kyle Gibbons deflected on goal. Sullivan was there to knock the rebound in, squaring the game at three with 2:50 remaining in the second.
McCrank then gave Canisius the lead with 13:09 remaining in regulation. On a rush, the junior knocked the puck off the back of the Mercyhurst netminder and into the net for the 4-3 lead. Conacher and sophomore Mathew Backhouse both recorded assists on McCrank’s eighth goal of the season.
The Lakers, however, would answer with 8:12 remaining in regulation. Daniel O’Donoghue took a pass from behind the Canisius net and knocked it in, sending the game into overtime.
Both teams had numerous chances in the extra frames to earn the win before Farrell finished it off at the 93:30 mark. Just 1:50 into the first overtime, junior Tyler Wiseman had his shot ring off the post. Then with 6:25 remaining in first extra session, junior Doug Beck had his shot deflect off the Mercyhurst netminder and trickle just wide of the goal.
In the second frame, both Beck and freshman Jack Hidi had rebound chances midway through the period but couldn’t connect. It was then Capobianco’s turn to shine as the senior netminder robbed two Mercyhurst players two minutes apart, leading to Farrell’s heroics just minutes later.
Mercyhurst finished the game with a 62-47 advantage in shots in the game but Capobianco was up for the challenge in the winning effort. The Lakers were 1-for-4 with the extra-man advantage, while Canisius didn’t score in two power-play chances.
Canisius now advances to the championship game tomorrow night where it will look to defend its title. The Griffs face either Robert Morris or Niagara in Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena with game time slated for 7:05 p.m.
Game Notes: The game was the longest in the program’s history, surpassing the previous record of 87:00, also in a 5-4 double overtime victory against Mercyhurst in the 2010 Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals … Capobianco topped his own record of saves in a postseason game (he recorded 50 against Air Force last season in the league’s quarterfinals) … Farrell’s last goal was against top-ranked Quinnipiac in the NCAA Tournament last season … Cuddemi has scored four goals in two games against Mercyhurst in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament … Canisius advanced to its second Atlantic Hockey Championship – the Griffs defeated Mercyhurst, 7-2, last season … Canisius was 1-2-0 against Robert Morris this season and 0-2-1 against Niagara.