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Video: Niagara hockey on facing North Dakota in NCAA tournament

Niagara University hockey coach David Burkholder and players Carsen Chubak and Marc Zanette talk about facing North Dakota in their upcoming NCAA tournament game:

Video: Canisius hockey on upcoming NCAA tournament game

Canisius hockey coach Dave Smith and players Matthew Grazen and Kyle Gibbons talk about their upcoming game against Quinnipiac in the NCAA tournament:

Canisius-Evansville Game Wrap

CIT Quarterfinal
Evansville 84, Canisius 83

How Evansville Won: The Purple Aces were in trouble down nine at intermission but opened the second half with a run and then rode the exploits of a finalist for mid-major player of the year. Porous defense tormented the Griffs in the MAAC semifinals and it was the same here. Evansville shot 60 percent in the second half.

Player of the Game: The best Canisius season in more than a decade has come to a close. But there are worse things than saying you were done in by Colt Ryan. The 6-5 senior guard was unstoppable, scoring 39 points on 11 of 22 from the field (5 of 9 on 3s) and 12 of 15 from the line. He also had a team-high six boards. And played 38 minutes. And never looked the worse for wear. Even the most ardent Griffs fan would have to admit he was a treat to watch.

Best Player (Losing Effort): Billy Baron struck for 21 points to finish the season with 584. That's the highest total for a Griff since Ray Hall in 1984-85 and the most points by a Canisius junior since Hall the previous season.

Another Go?: Reggie Groves was honored on Senior Night a couple weeks back but he still has a year of eligibility remaining. Hard to imagine he wouldn't come in handy next year, especially with the graduation losses the Griffs will sustain in the backcourt. Groves had seven points and six assists against two turnovers in 26 minutes. Harold Washington's foul trouble forced him into extended action.

Stat Check: This was the seventh time the Griffs scored at least 74 points and lost.

Stat Check II: Evansville scored 23 points off 16 Canisius turnovers. All nine Griffs who played committed at least one.

Seasonal: Chris Manhertz had six boards, pushing his season total to 297, seventh on the school single-season list . . . Isaac Sosa two treys pushed his school season-season record to 95 . . . With three blocks Jordan Heath went to 53, sixth most in a season.

In the House: 1,403 were on hand but it seemed like more. And the crowd was into it. Yup. After that looooong dry spell the Griffs matter again.

Canisius coach Jim Baron: "Down the stretch here (we were) playing against all good teams. This team beat Wichita State and you see them in the Sweet Sixteen right now. You can see why they beat Wichita State. You got to give them credit. They made their shots they made their plays they made their free throws and we have to play a flawless game to beat them."

Evansville coach Marty Simmons and if he's seen Ryan take over a game in that fashion: "I have. I mean I have. . . . I knowwe played Bradley last year at home and Creighton last year at Creighton he got on a roll like that. But he's been pretty consistent really for four years."

Simmons on Billy Baron: "He's a great player in transition. He really knows how to push it. He's really good off ball screens. . . . He's got great hesitation. He's got a quick first step. His knowledge of the game is tremendous."

Recapping: Canisius finished 20-14, a 15-win improvement over last season.

-- Bob DiCesare

Video: Bobby Hurley introduced as UB men's basketball coach


Bobby Hurley, who's being named UB's basketball coach, was Rhode Island's assistant coach. (AP file photo/Michael Conroy)


As the News' Jerry Sullivan first reported on Twitter, former Duke point guard Bobby Hurley is the University at Buffalo's new men's basketball coach.

UB introduced Hurley at a news conference at Alumni Arena that started shortly after 5 p.m.

Listen to Hurley's remarks after being introduced by UB Director of Athletics Danny White:

Earlier this month, White fired longtime coach Reggie Witherspoon in a surprise move to some, setting the stage for a national search.

Continue reading "Video: Bobby Hurley introduced as UB men's basketball coach" »

Big 4 players honored by NABC

Niagara's Juan'ya Green and Antoine Mason, Canisius' Billy Barron and UB's Javon McCrea were all named to the NABC Division I All-District teams which were announced today.

Green and Baron were named to the District 1 first team with Iona's Lamont Jones, Siena's O.D. Anosike and Stony Brook's Tommy Brenton. Mason was on the second team with Loyola's Erik Etherly, Boston University's D.J. Irving, Fairfield's Derek Needham and Stony Brook's Jameel Warney.

McCrea was on the District 14 first team along with Ohio's D.J. Cooper, Akron's Zeke Marshall, Toledo's Rian Pearson and Kent State's Chris Evans.

---Rodney McKissic

Niagara, Canisius nationally ranked

by Amy Moritz

And Western New York has two nationally ranked hockey programs.

Yesterday, Niagara and Canisius learned their placement in the NCAA field of 16. Today, they both claimed spots in the national poll.

Niagara, which has been a mainstay on the poll this season, moved up a spot to No. 14. Canisius, meanwhile, made its first-ever appearance in the national poll, getting the nod at No. 20.

The Purple Eagles won the regular season Atlantic Hockey title and are making their fourth NCAA appearance and second as an at-large team.

Canisius is on an eight-game winning streak, the longest current streak in the nation, and made the NCAAs with the automatic bid from Atlantic Hockey after defeating Mercyhurst, 7-2, in the title game Saturday.

Niagara faces North Dakota in the West Region at 5:30 p.m. Friday in Grand Rapids, Mich., while the Golden Griffins play top-ranked Quinnipiac in the East Region at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in Providence, R.I.

Report: George Mason headed to A-10

---George Mason is leaving the CAA and joining the Atlantic 10 Conference according to several reports. The A-10 has scheduled a teleconference at 1:45 p.m. on Monday.

The news comes shortly after it was announced that Xavier and Butler will leave for the Big East next season while Temple will depart for the old Big East.

---Rodney McKissic


Game Recap: Canisius wins Atlantic Hockey title

by Amy Moritz

The Basics: Canisius built a 3-0 lead and the goals poured on in the third as the Golden Griffins defeated Mercyhurst, 7-2, in the Atlantic Hockey Championship at Blue Cross Arena.

How Canisius Won: The offense is on fire for the Griffs. After averaging just 2.18 goals a game for the majority of the season, they entered the game with a 4.18 goals per game average during their seven-game winning streak. While top-line winger Kyle Gibbons scored twice, it's the ability of others to contribute. In this win, Ralph Cuddemi scored twice, just his third and fourth goals of the season, which proved to be key strikes.

How Canisius Won II: Puck luck. At one point in the season the Griffs couldn't buy a good bounce. In the second period alone they saw a Mercyhurst goal called back thanks to video replay. They saw the Lakers miss a wide open net and another shot clank off the goal post.

MVP: Gibbons earned the tourney honors with four points on the night, a career-high. Don't discount the play of goaltender Tony Capobianco, though. The junior was solid making 34 saves. But to be honest, that's kind of a light night for him.

Lowest seed: The Griffs become the lowest seed to win the Atlantic Hockey title. They came in as the seventh seed and defeated No. 2 Air Force and No. 1 Niagara en route to the title game.

What It Means: Canisius gets the league's automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. It's the first championship for the Griffs and their first time in the NCAA tourney.

P.S. What It Means For Niagara: The NCAA hockey field is not determined the same as basketball. There is no committee in a room debating bubble teams. The conference winners advance with the at-large teams filled in from the computer ranking PairWise system. As of now, it is pretty certain that Niagara is in.

NCAA Selection Show: 9 p.m. Sunday. ESPNU.

Penalties: There were plenty of them in this one and the Griffs won the special team's battle. Canisius went 3 for 6 on the power play while holding Mercyhurst to 1 for 5. The key penalty came early in the second when Kyle Just hit Stephen Farrell from behind in the corner. He was called for five-minutes for hitting from behind and given a game misconduct.

They Said It:

"I thought the second period was an absolute schmozzle. I mean it was the craziest period of hockey. I've been in this a long time and I don't remember too many periods that was that unglued. .. It was a nightmare, schmozzle second period for us." Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin.

"Nothing has really changed for us. The pieces of the puzzle shifted a little bit, but I thnk it was the body of work and I guess if I had to identify one thing that took us to a different level it was looking the end of the season in the face and saying … we don’t want our season to end. Since that point, we’ve played our best hockey of the season." Canisius coach Dave Smith.

Atlantic Hockey Championship: Canisius-Merchyhurst Preview

by Amy Moritz

It's the final most people were expecting but when Canisius plays Mercyhurst for the Atlantic Hockey Championship at Rochester's Blue Cross Arena at 7 tonight, it should be one entertaining game.

Canisius: The Golden Griffins are on a seven-game winning streak, the longest current streak in the nation. They also come into the final as the lowest seed in the 10-year history of the league to make the title game. Canisius finished the season seventh in Atlantic Hockey. This is the first title game with an NCAA spot on the line for the Ice Griffs. The program has one other championship game in its Division I history, making the 1999 MAAC championship game which they lost to Holy Cross. The MAAC did not have an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament at the time.

Mercyhurst: The sixth-seeded Lakers are making their first appearance in the Atlantic Hockey title game since 2009 when they lost to Air Force, 2-0. The Lakers won the title in 2005, 3-2, over Quinnipiac and went to the NCAA tournament in 2001 from the MAAC. So the program has experience this time of year. The Lakers also have Atlantic Hockey's scoring champion. Sophomore Matthew Zay led the conference in scoring with 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points during league play this season.

Keys for Canisius: Goal scoring. The Griffs have nearly doubled their scoring in March, averaging 4.14 goals in their seven-game winning streak after averaging just 2.18 goals per game before the streak. Canisius is also enjoying some good old-fashioned "puck luck" winning one-goal games. The Griffs were 0-8-0 in one-goal games before the streak. During their last seven wins, four have been by one goal.

Add to that solid goaltending for the Griffs. Junior Tony Capobianco has been steady and consistent all season for Canisius. He's been solid during this playoff run and getting lots of work. He set the Atlantic Hockey record for saves with 201 in five games.

Low seed final: After RIT and Air Force were eliminated from the tournament (thanks to Niagara and Canisius) Meryhurst coach Rick Gotkin joked that it was nice Atlantic Hockey decided to continue with the tournament. Then Canisius goes and knocks off No. 1 Niagara and Mercyhurst eliminated No. 3 Holy Cross in a three-game quarterfinal and dumped No. 4 UConn, 4-1, in the semifinals.

“I've been saying for years that a six or a seven seed is getting closer and closer to winning this league,” Gotkin said after the Lakers' semifinal win. “This is a pretty darn good league and we have not had an easy night really with anybody. I think the fact that you see a six and a seven seed emerge into the title game, it doesn't surprise me at all. And, I know that the six or seven seed champion will represent our league very well in the NCAA tournament.”

Fun Fact: Canisius coach Dave Smith spent three seasons (2002-05) as an assistant coach to Rick Gotkin at Merychurst. He helped the Lakers win the 2003 MAAC title and the 2005 Atlantic Hockey title.

Series History: It's almost as even as even can be. In postseason meetings, the series is tied, 4-4-0. In the last 10 games, the series is tied, 5-5-0. This year, the home team won each of the three meetings, giving the Lakers a 2-1 advantage. Dec. 18, Mercyhurst won, 3-2 in overtime in Erie, Pa. In the home-and-home series at the end of January, Canisius won 4-2 at Buffalo State and the Lakers won, 5-2, back in Erie. 

Video: Canisius celebrates win over Niagara

Canisius' hockey coach and players celebrate their upset victory over Niagara.

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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 |