BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Canisius scored four goals in the second period to take the lead and held off a late rally to defeat Sacred Heart, 6-5, in Atlantic Hockey Conference action Saturday at Webster Bank Arena.
Junior Nolan Sheeran, sophomores Felix Chamberland, Cameron Heath, Jimmy Mazza and Dylan McLaughlin and freshman Jesse Pereira all scored for the Griffs (16-10-7, 15-4-6 AHC), who extended the nation’s longest unbeaten streak to 12 games and maintained a share of first place in the Atlantic Hockey standings with the victory. The win also guaranteed Canisius a top-four finish in the Atlantic Hockey standings, securing them home ice for the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament.
Jeff Carroll, Liam Claire, Erlich Doerksen, Austin McIlmurray and Jordan Minello found the back of the net for the Pioneers (10-15-5, 8-13-3 AHC).
Following a scoreless first, the two teams combined for six goals in a 11:02 span during a back-and-forth second period.
Minello put Sacred Heart up, 1-0, at the 4:14 mark of the middle frame, beating Canisius keeper Charles Williams between the legs with a shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle.
Canisius responded with three goals in a two-minute second span midway through the period to take a 3-1 lead. Sheeran opened the sequence with 9:14 gone in the middle period with a wrist shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle to tie the game at 1-1.
Chamberland gave the Griffs a 2-1 lead just 54 seconds later as his wrist shot from the middle of the slot was partly deflected by a Pioneers defender and into the net.
Mazza capped the Canisius outburst 66 seconds after Chamberland’s tally, beating Mangus high the blocker side with a slap shot from the top of the left faceoff circle to make it a 3-1 contest.
Sacred Heart cut the Griffs margin in half, 3-2, a little more than two minutes later when Carroll stuffed home a rebound from the top of the crease during a Pioneers’ power play opportunity, but Heath restored Canisius’ two-goal cushion 1:38 later when he fired the puck past Magnus from the slot.
McLaughlin expanded the Canisius margin to 5-2 when his wrist shot ricocheted off a Sacred Heart defender and into the net while the Griffs were on the power play to make it a 5-2 contest.
The Pioneers attempted to mount a late comeback, using a power play goal from McIlmurray at the 13:25 mark and an extra attacker tally by Claire with 1:12 remaining to make it a 5-4 contest.
Pereira restored the Griffs’ two-goal margin 34 seconds later with an empty-net tally, but Doerksen made it a one-goal game with a second extra attacker goal with 13 seconds to play.
That would be as close as the Pioneers would get, as the Griffs held on for the one-goal victory.
Head Coach Dave Smith’s Postgame Comments
“It’s really tough to get points on the road. At this time of the year, every team plays with desperation. In a game where there was a lot of emotion with two desperate teams, we found a way to come out on top tonight.”
- Canisius improved to 28-22-7 all-time against Sacred Heart. The Griffs also moved to 11-14-6 against the Pioneers on the road.
- The win extended Canisius’ unbeaten streak to 12 games, the longest stretch of games between losses in program history. The previous school mark of consecutive games without a loss was 11, set during the 1997-98 campaign (Dec. 9-Feb. 2).
- Canisius improved to 13-0-2 this season when scoring three or more goals in a game.
- The Griffs moved to 14-0-0 in this season when leading after 40 minutes.
- Canisius was 1-for-6 on the power play as the Griffs recorded a man advantage tally in a contest for the ninth time in the last 10 games.
- The Griffs scored four goals in a period for the second time this season (First period at Air Force on Jan. 13).
- The six goals by the Griffs on Saturday matched their season high for goals in a game with six. Three of those four six-goal performances have come during the current 12-game unbeaten streak.
- Sophomore Dylan McLaughlin recorded his eighth multiple-point game of the season with a goal and an assist in Saturday’s contest. Canisius is a perfect 8-0-0 this season when McLaughlin tallies two or more points in a game.
- Sophomore Jimmy Mazza recorded multiple points in a game for the first time this season and the fourth time in his career with a goal and an assist in Saturday’s contest.
- Sophomore Felix Chamberland tallied multiple points in a contest for the third time this season and the fourth time in his career with a goal and assist in Saturday’s game.
- Sophomore Cameron Heath extended his point-scoring streak to three games with his second-period tally on Saturday. Heath also scored in consecutive games for the second time in his career with the goal.
- Canisius wraps up its season slate against rival Niagara next week with a home-and-home series.
- The Griffs and Purple Eagles square off Feb. 15 at HARBORCENTER in a 7:35 p.m. faceoff before playing a 7:05 p.m. contest at Dwyer Arena Feb. 17.