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Canisius knocks Lancaster out of the hunt for first place; Clarence locks up Division I

AMHERST - It was an action-packed Thursday evening at the Northtowns Center at Amherst, with schools jockeying for postseason seeds in the forthcoming WNY Varsity Hockey Federation postseason.

On the facility’s Olympic Rink, Canisius Crusaders forward Greg Marsh scored the game-winning goal at 12:18 in the third period, breaking up a 3-3 tie with the Lancaster Redskins (7-4-1). It didn’t take long for the news to make its way to the Feature Rink, on which the Clarence Red Devils were in the late stages of a 5-1 victory over the Williamsville North Spartans.

When the final horn sounded on the Feature Rink, the Red Devils (9-4) secured the top spot in Division I and in the large-school postseason.

“It’s hard to get there,” said Red Devils head coach Rich Brooks, referring to the race to first place.

If the tables would have been turned – a Red Devils loss, coupled with a Redskins victory – Lancaster, which has a game in hand, would have jumped ahead of Clarence in the standings. But as it worked out, Clarence advanced to an 18-15 advantage in total points, making it impossible for Lancaster to get past No. 2 in the division.

“To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about Lancaster until about half way through the third period,” Brooks said. “And then, around the 10-minute mark, we were playing pretty good and I looked up at the athletic trainer and I said, ‘You know what, I have no idea what’s going on in the other rink.’

“And our trainer said, ‘Well, I went over in between periods and it was 3-3.’ After that, I kind of let it go. But then with about one minute to go, for some reason I looked over to my right and our athletic director, Greg Kaszubski, was up there and signaled the 4-3 score to me, then giving me a thumbs up – so that was kind of cool.”

By securing the top seed in the postseason, the Red Devils will face the Lockport Lions (0-13) Feb. 16 at the Northtowns Center at Amherst. Faceoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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Freelance sportswriter Charles Roberts covers the WNY Varsity Hockey Federation for MetroWNY.com. Reach him at ChRobert3@aol.com or @cHartleyRoberts on Twitter.
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