WATERTOWN, Mass. – Canisius junior forward Mitch McCrank had a hat trick as the Golden Griffins won Sunday's decisive game three, 3-2 to upset Bentley and knock them out of the Atlantic Hockey quarterfinals.
McCrank had a goal in each period, including the eventual game-winning goal at 8:52 of the third period.
Canisius advances to next weekend's semifinals in Rochester. While Bentley's season comes to an end with a record of 19-14-4.
Bentley scored the game's first goal for the third straight time in the series off the stick of senior Brett Gensler (St. Charles, Mo./Youngstown Phantoms), who finished the year with 53 points and had a hand in eight of the 10 goals Bentley scored in the series.
The goal came at the 11:06 mark of the first period, and just one second after a Canisius penalty expired. The goal was setup by a shot by defenseman Steve Weinstein (Los Angeles, Calif./Vernon Vipers) that was saved by Canisius goalie Tony Capobianco. But Capobianco couldn't control the rebound, allowing Gensler to bury it for the goal.
But as they did the entire series the Griffs came right back with a goal, with McCrank scoring his first of the night just 50 seconds later to tie the game.
The Falcons though finished the period strong as Alex Grieve (Calgary, Alberta/Westside Warriors) potted his 25th of the season, on the power play, at 18:05. Picture perfect passing from Andrew Gladiuk (White Rock, B.C./Nanaimo Clippers) to Gensler to Grieve in front of the net for a one-timer past Capobianco gave Bentley a 2-1 lead.
Canisius dominated the second period, outshot Bentley 16-9 and got the period's only goal from McCrank at the 3:59 mark on the power play, with defensemen Doug Jessey and Chris Rumble assisting to tie the score 2-2.
An interference penalty on Canisius' Ben Danford 30 seconds into the third period gave Bentley an early power play, but the Griffs were able to kill it off.
McCrank's go-ahead goal in the third came after forward Ralph Cuddemi advanced the puck into their offensive zone, and feathered a pass onto McCrank's stick past the last Bentley defender. McCrank finished his move off with a goal to give them a 3-2 lead.
With under five minutes left Cuddemi had a chance to make it a two-goal game, but missed an open net with his first shot, then had a wide open shot robbed by Bentley goalie Branden Komm (Williamsville, N.Y./Northfield Mount Hermon) to keep them in the game.
Komm was pulled for the extra attacker with 1:05. Bentley kept the puck in the offensive zone for most of that time, but Canisius was able to keep the puck out of the net and hang on for the win.