This weekend’s home-and-home series between Canisius and RIT marks the end of an era for both programs.
Canisius will play its last regular season game at the Buffalo State Ice Arena at 7 tonight while RIT will close out the Frank Ritter Memorial Ice Arena with Saturday’s 7 p.m. contest.
The Golden Griffins are scheduled to move into the brand new HarborCenter in downtown Buffalo in the fall while RIT is building the Gene Polisseni Center on campus.
The Griffs have a 109-87-37 record in the building they’ve called home for the past 15 years. Canisius isn’t quite finished playing at Buffalo State, as the team locked up home ice for the first round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs.
Over at Niagara, home ice has been a way of life, but the Dwyer Arena advantage faded a bit this season. The Purple Eagles’ 22-game home unbeaten streak ended in a season-opening loss to Clarkson and the team has gone only 6-6-1 at Dwyer.
Niagara hosts Air Force for two games, tonight and Saturday at 7 p.m., and the Purple Eagles will remain home for the first round of the playoffs.
There are only two certainties in Atlantic Hockey heading into the final regular season weekend – Mercyhurst (16-4-5) is the No. 1 seed and Army (4-21-0) is the 10th and final seed. Otherwise, there is plenty of fighting room in positioning for seedings and matchups.
Canisius and Niagara are both tied with 25 points and can finish no higher than sixth place. Both will host their respective first-round playoff series, a best-of-three format with games March 7-9.
Air Force (14-8-3) can finish anywhere from second to fifth – the difference between a first-round bye and hosting a first-round series.
RIT (8-14-3) finished in the bottom four of the conference and will be on the road for the playoffs but its opponent is still to be decided.
The last regular season games means senior night festivities.
Canisius will bid farewell to a seven-member senior class tonight – forwards Taylor Law, Ryan Bohrer, Kyle Gibbons and Patrick Sullivan (Derby), defensemen Ben Danford and Duncan McKellar and goaltender Tony Capobianco.
Niagara will honor four seniors – defensemen Kevin Ryan (Eden) and Matt Williams and forwards Patrick Divjak and Ryan Rashid – on Saturday.