"We had good legs tonight and real good energy," said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. "A lot of credit goes to our players for coming up with their best hockey when the game was close in the second period. We really pushed to get that two-goal lead and our special teams came up big for us tonight."
Rookies Stephen Miller and Chris Rumble led the way for the Griffs. Miller netted the first two goals of his career, while Rumble added the first two points of his tenure on a goal and an assist in just the second collegiate game for the defender.
Junior Kyle Gibbons and sophomore Matthew Grazen also netted goals for the Griffs in the winning effort.
Junior Tony Capobianco anchored the Canisius defense on the night with 27 saves.
The Pioneers (0-18-2, 0-12-2 Atlantic Hockey) struck first in the game when Tommy Castonguay finished from the high slot 9:47 into the contest for the 1-0 advantage.
The Griffs, however, answered back in the second frame with the Canisius freshmen leading the way. Sophomore Tyler Wiseman dug the puck out of the boards from down low and found Miller open on the opposite side. Miller then buried his chance for his first collegiate goal 5:19 into the period. Sophomore Mitch McCrank also registered an assist on the game-tying tally.
Miller wasted no time netting his second collegiate goal, scoring just 3:12 after the first to give the Griffs the lead for good. Junior defender Ben Danford fired a shot off the boards and the rebound went to the freshman on the far side. Miller finished with the open look for his second goal and the 2-1 advantage with 11:29 remaining in the period. Junior Duncan McKellar also registered an assist on the tally.
Rumble then tallied his first collegiate goal, connecting on a power play with 5:47 remaining in the second. The rookie fired a shot in from the point to give the Griffs a 3-1 lead. McKellar and senior Preston Shupe both posted assists on the power-play goal.
Canisius then added a short-handed tally with 4:12 remaining in the period. Senior Torrey Lindsay caused a turnover in the Sacred Heart zone and from behind the net, found Grazen open in front. The sophomore finished his chance for his fifth goal of the season and the 4-1 Griffs lead after two.
Gibbons carried the momentum for Canisius into the third frame, netting his seventh goal of the season 1:37 into the period. Rumble sent a cross-ice pass to Gibbons and the junior forward found the back of the net from the right face-off circle to finish the scoring and seal the 5-1 Canisius victory.
Both teams finished with 28 shots on the night. Canisius was 1-for-5 on the power play, while killing all three Sacred Heart power plays.
Andrew Bodnarchuk finished with 23 saves in the loss for the Pioneers.
The schools wrap up the two-game series tomorrow, playing at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport at 4:05 p.m.
Game Notes: The Griffs did not have a goal from a freshman this season before the game ... Canisius was one of four teams to not score or allow a short-handed goal this year ... The Griffs are now a perfect 7-0-0 when Lindsay records a point this season (0-9-5 when he is held off the scoreboard) ... Capobianco has allowed one or fewer goals in seven of his last eight Atlantic Hockey contests ... Sacred Heart's opening goal ended a 150:54 first-period scoreless streak for Capobianco ... Danford now has 45 career assists, one shy of the program's record for a defender ... Canisius won for the first time this season when allowing the first goal of the game.