NCAA DI Men's Hockey

Canisius Earns Spot At 2023 NCAA Hockey Tournament

Canisius Earns Spot At 2023 NCAA Hockey Tournament

Canisius earned its second-ever berth to the NCAA Hockey Tournament. Canisius will open as the No. 16 seed, against No. 1 Minnesota.

Mar 22, 2023 by Jacob Messing
Canisius Earns Spot At 2023 NCAA Hockey Tournament

The Canisius Golden Griffins defeated the Holy Cross Crusaders, 3-0, to earn the title of Atlantic Hockey Champion and a spot in the 16-team NCAA Hockey Tournament.

The Griffins largely dictated the championship game outside a sluggish opening to the second period. Late in the frame, Nick Bowman scored the first goal—ultimately the game-winner—and initiated the momentum shift the Griffins would hold for the remainder of the game.

“It was an unbelievable hockey game,” Griffins coach Trevor Large said following the game. 

“It took everything we had. This is a very exciting time for the Griffs and we love to get prepared for an NCAA Tournament. It means the world. This is what these guys play for and what our staff prepares for. To get through a playoff, let alone win a championship, is an unbelievable feeling.”

The win earned Canisius its second-ever berth to the National Tournament. Canisius (20-18-3 overall) will open the NCAA Tournament as the No. 16 seed, against No. 1 Minnesota (26-9-1 overall) at 9:00pm EST Thursday at Scheels Arena in Fargo, North Dakota. 

The game will mark only the second time the programs have faced off, with the Gophers taking a 1-0 win in October of 2012. The Gophers lost in the 2022 Frozen Four and return among the favorites in the 16-team field, holding the No. 1-overall seed. 

The Griffins will look to add to the list of recent NCAA Hockey Tournament upsets by Atlantic Hockey. American International upset No. 1 overall St. Cloud State in 2019 while Air Force upset St. Cloud State the year prior.

Large has stated that preparations include looking for what the opponent’s strengths are and limiting those, but for a No. 1 program like Minnesota, strengths come in every facet of the game.

“We’re going [to the tournament] with the objective to win,” Large told Rachel Lenzi of The Buffalo News. 

“We’re not going for the experience. We’re not going there for fun. Those things will all be there, and we’ll have those things, but we’re going there to win two hockey games and to get to a Frozen Four. I know we have a very motivated group. I know we have an experienced, older group, but, honestly, it’s not going to take a lot of convincing to make sure that’s what our mindset is.”

The Griffins’ “why not us” mentality, mixed with their conference tournament momentum and continued 2023 push could spell trouble for the Gophers in Thursday’s single elimination contest. The Griffins have won 12 of their past 16 games, while the Gophers have gone 11-4-1 over their past 16, including losing their last outing, 4-3 to Michigan to end their Big Ten Tournament prematurely.

The Gophers boast a lineup led by NHL prospects, but the spotlight will be on them, taking some pressure off the Griffins.

“It’s having the opportunity to play for a national championship,” fifth-year transfer Erik Urbank added to The Buffalo News. 

“I think that’s really cool, having the opportunity to play the No. 1 seed in the country. Not a lot of people can say that, especially from our conference, to play the best team in the country and have the chance to play the spoiler.”

The winner of Canisius/Minnesota winner will face the winner of St. Cloud State and Minnesota State, Saturday night at 6:30pm EST back at Scheels Arena, where a spot in the Frozen Four at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL will be on the line. 

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