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Game Wrap: Canisius vs. Quinnipiac

by Amy Moritz

The skinny: The magical run for the Canisius Golden Griffins came to an end Saturday night in a 4-3 loss to No. 1 Quinnipiac. The Griffs took a 3-1 third-period lead but couldn't hold on as the Bobcats scored three goals in a 6:26 span to end the Cinderella story.

How Quinnipiac Won: The Bobcats kept throwing pucks on net. Pucks on net. Pucks on net. And then their top line of Matthew Peca and twin brothers Connor and Kellen Jones, got to work scoring, well, a pretty goal. Then came a power play goal. Then came a hard-work goal. It wasnt' a magic switch. It was a steady, confident wave with experienced players, even if they didn't have any NCAA experience either.

How Canisius Lost: It was a bad seven-minute span in the third period and the Griffs couldn't weather the speed and senior leadership of the Bobcats.

Shots on Goal: Qunnipiac held a commanding 40-23 advantage in shots on goal. But that's not a stat that concerned Canisius too much. This is a team which during their eight-game run routinely got outshot.

Player of the Game: Game-winning goal scorer Kevin Bui was the first star, though that top line of Peca-Jones-Jones made it terribly difficult for the Griffs to get out of their own zone, especially late in the third period.

Player of the Game, Losing Effort: Tony Capobianco. The junior made 36 saves and the Bobcats needed some perfect shots to beat him in the third period. He looked extraordinary at times and normal at others. Expect this game to provide some motivation for next season.

Looking Forward: The Griffs finish the season 19-19-5. They graduate four seniors -- defensemen Ben Parker and Chris Barrea and forwards Torrey Lindsay, Preston Shupe. That means they return six juniors, including leading scorer Kyle Gibbons and goaltender Tony Capobinaco, 10 sophomore and four freshmen. After the sting of this loss goes away, the offseason is looking incredibly exciting.

They Said It:

"The shots are the shots. We didn’t have to win shots. We wanted to win the scoreboard battle." Canisius coach Dave Smith.

"I know for a fact that we’ll look back at this year and have nothing but good memories, but for the time being right now, it’s still pretty fresh and stings a lot. But the guys have a lot to be proud of. It’s been a special year." Canisius senior captain Preston Shupe.


Live from Providence: Canisius vs. Quinnipiac

Purple Eagles coach reflects on memorable hockey season

By Miguel Rodriguez

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A day after one of the most memorable seasons in the history of Niagara hockey ended in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of perennial national title contender North Dakota, Purple Eagles coach Dave Burkholder took some time out of his day early Saturday afternoon to reflect on the 2012-13 season and discuss the possibilities of NU being able to make another run to the NCAA tourney next season.

Of course, a run at back-to-back tournament appearances for the first time in program history would be an easier task if Hobey Baker Award finalist and highly scouted goaltender Carsen Chubak returns for his senior season.

As of this moment, Burkholder said he hasn’t talked about the future with Chubak. It was a subject that didn’t come up late in the season because neither wanted that to be a distraction with Niagara playing important games.

Here is the roughly eight-minute phone interview. Burkholder and the team traveled back to Lewiston immediately after last night’s game.

Niagara-North Dakota postgame interviews

By Miguel Rodriguez

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Sorry it took so long, but here are interviews with Niagara senior Marc Zanette, North Dakota's Danny Kristo and St. Francis product Anthony Day of Yale.

Yale shocked Minnesota in overtime, 3-2, in which Day blocked two shots -- one of each knee.

Kristo's goal capped a 57-second span to foil Niagara's bid for the night's second underdog triumph as NoDak win 2-1.

Due to poor audio quality of early portions of postgame interviews featuring Niagara coach Dave Burkholder, senior co-captain Jason Beattie and junior goalie Carsen Chubak, I opted not to post that file.


Niagara's Marc Zanette

North Dakota's Danny Kristo

Yale's Anthony Day

Live from Grand Rapids: Niagara vs. North Dakota

A question of PairWise

by Amy Moritz

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- At the pre-tournament press conference, Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold was asked about the PairWise system. The computer ranking formula is used to determine the 11 NCAA at-large bids. Niagara, which finished tied for ninth in the PairWise rankings, made the tournament field, playing North Dakota in the first round in the West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich., later this evening.

But many think that Niagara should not have been in the field, that there were other teams (see: Providence) that should have made the field instead.

Here is part of what Pecknold had to say:

"I think it's a good system, but I don't think it's perfect. I don't think it's possible to find the perfect system. I think what we have is good. There are some issues with people thinking Niagara shouldn’t be in the because they didn’t have enough quality wins outside their league, and those are things we’re going to have to deal with as a committee. Years ago, this happened to Quinnipiac. We were 10th in the PairWise and we were kept out because we didn't play enough non-conference games, which was fair at that point.

"It's something we're gong tohae to look at and tweak and figure out why this happened. I don't know if the TUC [teams under consideration] criteria would change. I don't think the 10-game minimum changes anything for Niagara, but when you play enough of an insular schedule, it will allow for some teams to have that high PairWise."

Continued Pecknold:

"You want to play good teams and you want to win. Playing bad teams doesn't help you. If you look at Niagara, they have some really good wins against some good Atlantic Hockey teams. They were dominant against the top teams, and that’s what helped them. Whether it’s right or wrong, that’s what helped them."

Ryan, St. Francis alums talking proud at NCAAs

By Miguel Rodriguez

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – How can a weekend in which both of Western New York’s Division I hockey teams make the NCAA Tournament get better?

How about five former St. Francis teammates all having a hand in helping their respective teams make the ‘Big Dance,’ including three participating in regional semifinal games here this afternoon.

Sophomores Kevin Ryan and Michael Benedict, both of Eden, look to help Niagara spring what would be a mild upset against North Dakota at 5:30 p.m. in Van Andel Arena in a game that will be televised by ESPNU.

Their buddy Anthony Day, a sophomore forward, and Yale face top-seeded Minnesota in the 2 p.m. regional semifinal here.

In Providence, R.I., at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, their former teammates Patrick Sullivan and Chris Barrea skate into history as fourth-seeded Canisius plays its first NCAA Tournament game against East Regional No. 1 seed Quinnipiac. The game will air on Time Warner SportsChannel and ESPN3.

“St. Francis has always been a top notch hockey program in Western New York. It’s been for high school and now midgets,” said Ryan, a defenseman who has a goal and team-high 23 assists for 24 points. “That’s the main reason I went there to start with and it’s awesome to see it’s paying off for a lot of guys.”

“It’s definitely very important for Buffalo hockey to recognize they have a great hockey system,” said Day, a high-energy, two-way player for a Bulldogs team that’s made four of the last five NCAA Tournaments. “It’s cool it can be us that we’re representing the area. I give a lot of credit to the St. Francis hockey program for where I am today. … (Red Raiders coach) John Bowers is one of the best coaches I’ve had in my career.”

Anything can happen in a one-game playoff, so Western New York’s potential dream situation would be Niagara and Yale playing each other in Saturday’s regional final for a spot in the Frozen Four, but both teams must focus on immediate tasks at hand. Minnesota and North Dakota have combined for 12 NCAA titles, with No. Dak winning seven of them. They play in a conference, the WCHA, that has six of the 16 teams in the tourney field. Needless to say, NU and Yale will have their hands full.

Niagara is entering its contest coming off a loss, but that hasn’t diminished Ryan’s swagger as he’ll likely take his share of turns against UND’s two Hobey Baker Award finalists in Danny Kristo and Corban Knight along with freshman sensation Rocco Grimaldi.

“We’ve seen some great players all year long, and we have very good defensive players,” Ryan said. “Our forwards help out in the ‘D’ zone and we have an awesome goalie (Hobey Baker finalist Carsen Chubak) in the pipes. I don’t see them posing much of a problem if we play on top of our game.

“I think this team right now rises to the challenge. It’s more so that we’re excited for the challenge than we’re dreading the challenge. We’re really excited for the challenge and I think we’ll be on top of our game because of that.”

Listen to the interview with Ryan below.


Kevin Ryan

Mihalich named NABC district coach of the year

---Niagara's Joe Mihalich has been named National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 1 Coach of the Year, as announced by the NABC on Friday. This is Mihalich’s seventh coach of the year honor and second by the NABC.

Mihalich was named coach of the year in District 1, which consists of teams in the America East and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Mihalich, who was named NABC coach of the year for the first time in 2009, was also honored by the MAAC and this season.

The winningest coach in MAAC history, Mihalich guided the youngest team in the conference to the regular-season title to clinch a berth into the NIT. Mihalich is reportedly a candidate for the opening at Hofstra.

---Rodney McKissic

Live chat at 3 p.m.: Canisius, NU skate into NCAA Tournament, with Amy Moritz

Report: Mihalich to interview at Hofstra (update)

---Mihalich returned a text message at 5:57 this morning saying he was on the road recruiting and doesn't know where the talk about an interview with Hofstra is coming from.

---Niagara University basketball coach Joe Mihalich is interviewing at Hofstra on Thursday according SNY.TV's Adam Zagoria.

Mihalich, a three-time Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Coach of the Year winner, is coming off a season when led the Purple Eagles to a 19-14 record and the MAAC regular season title. Mihalich has been the coach at Niagara since 1998, leading the Purple Eagles to three MAAC regular season titles, two league tournament championships and a pair of berth to the NCAA Tournament in 2005 and 2007.

The opening at Hofstra was created when the school announced Mo Cassara would not be returning after a 7-25 record.

Mihalich did not return a text and a phone call for comment.

---Rodney McKissic

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About Campus Watch

Bob Dicesare

Bob DiCesare

Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.

@TBNDicesare |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |