Brad McGowan and Danny Smith scored goals for Rochester Institute of Technology to help lift the Tigers into their first appearance in the Atlantic Hockey Association championship game since 2012.
Senior goaltender Jordan Ruby kicked aside 27of 28 shots he faced as RIT defeated Canisius, 2-1, in the second semifinal at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, NY on Friday evening.
Hobey Baker Award finalist and senior captain Matt Garbowsky assisted on McGowan's goal with just 23 seconds to play in the opening period. Smith tallied the game-winning goal at the 15:15 mark of the middle period. Shane Conacher scored Canisius' only goal of the night earlier in the second period.
RIT, a Frozen Four participant in 2010, has gone on a remarkable second half run. Following a 3-2 overtime loss to Minnesota in the Mariucci Classic, the Tigers were 5-10-3. Wayne Wilson's team has gone on a tear since then, racking up a 13-4-2 record during that span heading into Saturday night's championship game against Mercyhurst.
Mercyhurst defeated Atlantic Hockey regular season champion and defending tournament champion Robert Morris, 4-3, in overtime in the first semifinal.
The Tigers lost, 4-0, to Air Force in their last appearance in the final in 2012. Puck drop for Saturday's final is set for 7:05 p.m. ET. The winner gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and the season is over for the loser.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior, high school and prep hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.