Our focus in practice last week was to get back to what makes us successful. At this point in the season, we all know our team's strengths and weaknesses and what type of game we need to play in order to win.
After two days of solid practice, we jumped right back into the action against the Niagara Purple Eagles. Our rivalry against Niagara is not something just associated with the hockey program, but is a school-wide affair. Games against Niagara are always must-wins for any of Canisius' athletic teams. The rivalry goes back for years as both schools have competed to be the best in each sport every year.
The rivalry between the hockey programs has only intensified as Niagara joined the Atlantic Hockey league this year. Considering we had only played against the Purple Eagles twice over the past three years, the Ice Griffs were more than pleased to hear that we got to face them three times this season.
On Thursday, we played Niagara for the second time this season here in Buffalo. The atmosphere was intense in the rink as many fans from the community came out to show their support for their respective favorite local team. As most Canisius versus Niagara contests go, the game was very physical right off the bat. Both teams played hard from puck drop to the final buzzer, but the Griffs were kept off the scoreboard and dropped the first game of the weekend.
On Friday, the boys got back onto the ice for a quick skate. Nobody was feeling great about the prior night's game and a bit of frustration was beginning to build amongst the team. Our coaching staff decided that we needed to get back to having fun on the ice and let us have the ice to ourselves for an inter-squad scrimmage. We play to win, but the most important part of hockey is having fun. Sometimes, teams get away from playing for the love of the game and let frustration get to them. This move by the coaching staff would prove to be a successful one the following night.
On Saturday night, the Griffs hopped on the bus for a quick jaunt across the bridge to Niagara Falls to face the Purple Eagles. We were determined to get our season back on track, and to avenge our loss from a couple nights before. The boys took the ice with a whole new attitude and took control of the game right away. We got on the board early and continued to find the back of the net throughout the game as we scored six times in the victory. Each player contributed with smart and simple plays, backed up with a great effort and energy.
It was a big win for the Ice Griffs on Saturday night, as it not only helped us in the standings, but gave us valuable confidence as we go into our last weekend of the season.
See you at the rink,
Scott Jenks, #3