By Nick Veronica
Canisius and Niagara have met in the playoffs plenty of times, but never quite like this.
The Western New York rivals’ three most prominent sports teams – men’s basketball, women’s basketball and ice hockey – will all face each other in the first round of their respective conference tournaments this week.
Never before have all three teams met in the playoffs in the same year, let alone in the same round or weekend. 2011 was the only year Canisius and Niagara met in the postseason in two of the three sports, with Canisius women’s basketball beating Niagara in the play-in round and the Griffs hockey team winning in the semifinals.
The chart below shows the history of their postseason meetings. The teams are 3-3 in men’s basketball while Niagara has never beaten Canisius in a postseason women’s basketball or hockey game.
This week’s schedule
The Canisius-Niagara women’s basketball game kicks off the entire MAAC Tournament weekend, starting things bright and early Thursday morning with a 9:30 a.m. contest at Albany’s Times Union Center.
Canisius (8-12) is seeded eighth and Niagara (5-15) is seeded ninth. Canisius swept the regular-season meetings, winning the road game in overtime. The winner plays No. 1 Quinnipiac at noon Friday.
The men’s basketball teams meet in the play-in round at 7 p.m. Thursday night. Seventh-seeded Canisius (also 8-12) swept both games from Niagara (also 5-15) this year.
The winner faces No. 2 Iona at 9:30 p.m. Friday.
The hockey teams play a best-of-three series this Friday-Sunday. No. 7 Canisius (10-13-5) is the higher seed, so it will host all three games at HarborCenter, with faceoff at 7:35 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 5:05 p.m. Sunday if necessary.
Canisius took the season series from Niagara (5-18-6, seeded 10th) with a win and a tie. Both games were at HarborCenter.
Atlantic Hockey reseeds teams after the first round, so the next opponent is not yet known. It will either be 1-Robert Morris, 2-Air Force or 3-Holy Cross.
Canisius has already clinched the Battle of the Bridge – the all-sport competition between Canisius and Niagara – for the sixth year in a row. Only regular-season games are included in the competition.Follow @NickVeronica