Canisius Hockey wins Atlantic Hockey title and goes to NCAA tournament

As the Canisius hockey team celebrated in the moments after winning the Atlantic Hockey Association championship at LECOM Harborcenter Saturday night, Golden Griffins coach Trevor Large overheard one of his assistant coaches say something that captured the excitement, disbelief and heaviness a 3-0 win over Holy Cross.

“Just getting through a playoff and getting into a championship game, let alone winning one, is an incredible feeling,” Large said. “I heard Max Mobley say it afterwards. He said, ‘You know, this feels better than I thought.’

“It really does. It’s a special feeling and I’m very proud of everyone who is blue and gold.”

It was a feeling that had developed over 10 years for the Griffs, for their players, and for the fans at Harborcenter. The Griffs are entering the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013 by winning the Atlantic Hockey Championship. They will find out their target and opponent for Sunday’s first round when the 16-team tournament field is announced.

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Nick Bowman’s goal with 3:01 left in the second half gave the Griffs victory, a goal that was broken resulted in a goalless tie in a game where the teams started timidly. Canisius found energy in front of goal to advance into the third period.

“It’s incredible,” said Canisius goalkeeper Jacob Barczewski. “All our alumni, all the previous players I’ve played with, we share this championship together. It hasn’t quite kicked in yet, but it’s just an incredible feeling.”

How it happened: Canisius (20-18-3) killed an interference penalty on Markus Boguslavsky after 39 seconds, allowing the Crusaders (17-21-3) no shot on goal during the penalty kick.

Then, about four minutes into the game, Randy Hernandez separated two defenders but fired past Holy Cross goalie Jason Grande from close range.

But the Griffs and the Crusaders matched almost shot for shot for the rest of the first, going into the second scoreless despite a last-minute push from the Crusaders.

Just over three minutes into the second minute, Barczewski stopped two shots on goal for the Crusaders, including Devin Phillips’ shot. However, the two teams couldn’t muster much offense, with only two combined shots on goal in the first 10 minutes of the second.

Erik Urbank probably had Canisius’ best scoring opportunity, about 7 1/2 minutes remaining in the second, when his shot went out of the slot and went past Grande. Then, less than two minutes after Alex Peterson’s shot from the slot went past Barczewski, Bowman gave the Griffs a 1-0 lead, taking 2:01 in the second on a one-timer from the left circle after a Jackson pass deckers remained.

“The first phase was a little hesitant, but credit to the leadership,” Bowman said. “They said, ‘Take a deep breath, if we do our thing, we’re going to come out on top.’ We scored the goal and that kind of spurred everyone on. We have a saying, ‘when we’re on top, just take their lives’, and we want to do what we can to get our job done on the ice.”

Holy Cross’ Jack Ricketts hit the post after less than four minutes, allowing the Griffs to maintain a 1-0 lead until Boguslavsky and Keaton Mastrodonato scored from empty nets in the final 1:28.

Milestone for Barczewski: Barczewski recorded his 200th save of the Atlantic Hockey Tournament in the second half. He is the fifth goaltender to reach this milestone and the sixth time an Atlantic Hockey goaltender has reached the mark.

Barczewski finished the tournament with 24 saves against Holy Cross and 208 saves during the Atlantic Hockey Tournament.

Canisius’ Tony Capobianco set the tournament record of 249 saves at an Atlantic Hockey tournament in 2014; Capobianco also had 235 in the 2013 tournament.

“I’m just a very small part of it,” Barczewski said of winning the Atlantic Hockey title. “I know my job every night to give these guys a chance and I just walk in and when the guys block shots and give me clear lanes it makes my job a lot easier.”

Two penalties and then none: Canisius and Holy Cross each killed a first-half penalty – an interference penalty to Boguslavsky in the 39th second in the first and a boarding penalty to Alec Cicero from Holy Cross 3:01 in the first – then the two teams were not called for a penalty in the second or third period.

Atlantic Hockey All-Tournament Team: Barczewski, Bowman, Canisius defenseman Jackson Decker and forward Keaton Mastrodonato were named to the Atlantic Hockey All-Tournament Team. Barczewski was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

Next: Canisius receives Atlantic Hockey’s automatic bid for the NCAA tournament beginning with first-round games Thursday and Friday at four regional locations: Allentown, Pennsylvania; Manchester, New Hampshire; Fargo, ND and Bridgeport, Connecticut. The field of participants with 16 teams will be announced on Sunday at 18:30.


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