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2008 MAAC Champions

Prior to the 2008 campaign, Canisius College had built a program ready to contend for conference titles. The Griffs had won their first regular season title in 2006 and qualified for the MAAC Championship four times between the 2003 and 2007 seasons.

It wasn't until 2008 though that Canisius reached the pinnacle of the league when a perfect mix of veteran leadership and new talent put the Griffs over the edge and the program captured its first MAAC championship.

The signs of a special season where evident right from the start. Despite suffering losses in their first three games of the campaign, the Griffs had made their presence known on the national stage and earned votes in the national poll for the first time in school history.

It started with a narrow defeat at fifth-ranked Princeton. The nationally-ranked Tigers had earned an 11-goal victory over the Griffs the previous season but found a much more difficult challenge in 2008 with the contest knotted at six late in the third quarter. A late Princeton charge earned the win but Canisius had established itself as a team to contend with.

The Griffs then opened play at the Demske Sports Complex against Colgate, an eventual top-10 team in 2008. A late goal by the Raiders with five seconds left forced overtime and Colgate then squeaked out a 12-11 victory.

Canisius, however, was able to take a number of positives out of the early games, including the emergence freshman duo Adam Jones and Nick LoCoco. The two rookies accounted for 17 of the Griffs' 30 points in the first two contests, including an eight-point, seven-assist performance for LoCoco against the Raiders. Canisius continued its tough early schedule with a loss at No. 9 Cornell.

The Griffs quickly rebounded and responded with a school-record eight-game winning streak. Canisius began the streak with its first-ever MAAC win at traditional conference power Mount St. Mary's, 11-7, and continued with conference victories against Manhattan, Saint Joseph's and Marist.

After earning a non-conference win against Robert Morris in overtime, Canisius defeated conference foes Wagner, Siena and VMI to improve to 7-0 in the MAAC and clinch a share of its second-ever regular season title.

A number of players stepped up for the Griffs during the eight-game winning streak. Jones and LoCoco continued their outstanding rookie seasons and led the Griffs in scoring while seniors Michael Blocho and Tom Hensel proved just as valuable on the offensive end. Blocho netted a season-best four tallies in the one-goal victory at Robert Morris and became the 14th player in school history to record his 100th career point. One of two team captains, Hensel was a multiple threat for the Griffs, recording 35 points on 16 goals and 19 assists.

In addition, sophomore Alex Caldiero netted the game-winning overtime goal against MAAC rival Siena, while freshman Greg Michael scored the overtime winner at Robert Morris.

All good things must come to an end, however, and Hobart snapped the Griffs' school-record eight game-winning streak. Canisius then finished the regular season with a loss to defending conference champion Providence.

The postseason was how the 2008 team was going to be measured and the squad passed the test easily. The Griffs earned their first-ever postseason victory with an 11-2 win against Manhattan in the MAAC Semifinal. Canisius didn't allow a goal in the first 21:11 and never looked back en route to the nine-goal victory.

In the championship contest, Canisius netted seven-straight scores early to take a commanding 8-1 lead over VMI and cruised to the 14-5 win for the program's first championship.

Defense was the story of the title as senior goalkeeper Chris Courteau earned MAAC Championship Most Outstanding Player honors after posting a goals against average of 2.57 and a save percentage of .762 in the two victories. Senior defender Michael Ferranti also earned All-Tournament Team honors after shutting down VMI's top scorer and MAAC Offensive Player of the Year, Kevin Hill - who did not record a goal and was forced into five turnovers.

Jones (4g, 1a vs. VMI) and co-captain Matt Hajek (11-of-18 faceoffs) also earned All-Tournament accolades.

With the MAAC title, Canisius earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the program's history and drew No. 3 Syracuse. The eventual national champion Orange earned a 20-3 win over the Griffs, ending the best season in the program's history.

Despite the loss to Syracuse, Canisius set a number of school records during the 2008 campaign. The Griffs won a program-best 10 games and the team's .625 winning percentage is the highest mark in school history.

A number of Griffs also earned postseason recognition. Jones became the first player in the program's history to garner USILA All-America honors, while LoCoco was named the MAAC Rookie of the Year. The freshmen duo both received first-team All-MAAC accolades with Blocho and Hensel earning second-team honors.

2008 Postseason Honors
Michael Blocho Chris Courteau Michael Ferranti Matt Hajek
Tom Hensel Adam Jones Nick LoCoco
• All-MAAC
Second Team
• MAAC Champ. MVP
• MAAC All-Tournament Team
• MAAC All-Tournament Team • MAAC All-Tournament Team • All-MAAC
Second Team
• USILA All-American
• All-MAAC
First Team
• MAAC All-Tournament Team
• MAAC Rookie of the Year
• All-MAAC
First Team