The Canisius College hockey team remained perfect at home following a 3-1 victory against Connecticut on Friday afternoon. The Griffs, who are 3-0-0 in Buffalo this season, improve to 4-7-0 on the year and 3-3-0 against Atlantic Hockey foes, while the Huskies drop to 4-5-1 and 3-2-0 in league play.
“It was a great team effort and a hard-fought win tonight,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “It felt like a playoff game in November and I’m really proud with how we played as a team. To keep our winning streak alive at home is also important and exciting as it’s something I hear the players talking about.”
Junior Braeden Rigney led the Griffs and matched his career high with two points in the victory, scoring the game-winning goal and adding an assist. Senior Patrick Sullivan and sophomore Stephen Miller also added a goal for Canisius in the win.
Senior netminder Tony Capobianco recorded 25 saves to anchor the Canisius defense.
Sullivan opened the scoring for the Griffs with his fourth tally of the season just 122 seconds into the game. The senior chipped the puck past a Connecticut defender and then beat the goaltender 1-on-1, sneaking the puck through 5-hole for the 1-0 lead. Rigney and junior Mitch McCrank both registered an assist on the early tally.
Connecticut tied the contest early in the second period when Shawn Pauly scored 3:33 into the frame. Capobianco made a save off a shot from the point and the puck popped into the air. Pauly located the loose puck near the crease and found the back of the net to square the contest at one.
Canisius answered back and took the lead for good when Rigney scored his first career game-winning goal with 7:43 remaining in the second. The senior received the puck in the neutral zone and beat three Connecticut defenders before finishing high glove-side for the 2-1 advantage. Senior Kyle Gibbons and freshman Geoff Fortman both registered an assist on the go-ahead tally.
The Griffs then stretched their lead to two early in the third frame when Miller scored his first goal of the season just 87 seconds into the period. Junior defender Doug Jessey skated past a number of Connecticut players into the offensive zone before finding Miller to his left. A quick release from the slot then found the back of the net for the sophomore forward. Sophomore Chris Rumble also registered an assist on the goal to give Canisius a 3-1 advantage.
The Canisius defense then took it from there and didn’t allow the Huskies to pull any closer. The Griffs penalty kill unit also continued to play well and killed off a late Connecticut power play, which included a two-man advantage with the goalie pulled, to secure the 3-1 victory.
Connecticut finished the game with a 26-22 advantage in shots, while neither team was able to convert on the power play. Canisius was 0-for-4 with the extra-man advantage and killed all three of the Huskies chances.
The schools wrap up the series tomorrow afternoon. Game time at the Buffalo State Sports Arena is scheduled for 4:05 p.m.
Game Notes: Rigney, who has 16 career points in 62 career games, has five points in the Griffs’ last five contests … In four career starts against Connecticut, Capobianco owns a 3-0-1 record with a 0.73 goals against average and .980 save percentage … The assist for Fortman on Rigney’s goal was the first point of his collegiate career … Canisius has not allowed a power-play goal in the last four games (16-straight opportunities) after allowing at least one in each of the first seven games of the season … The Griffs have won their first three home games for just the second time in the program’s 15-year Division I history (Canisius has never won four-straight at home to open a season).