BUFFALO, N.Y. –Canisius scored twice in the third period to break a 2-2 tie and defeat rival Niagara, 4-2, in Atlantic Hockey Conference action Wednesday at KeyBank Rink in HARBORCENTER.
Sophomores Jimmy Mazza and Matt McLeod both found the back of the net during the final 20 minutes to help the Griffs (17-10-7, 16-4-6 AHC) extend the nation’s longest active unbeaten streak to 13 games. Senior Geoff Fortman and freshman Matt Hoover also scored for Canisius as it also stretched its lead in the Atlantic Hockey standings to three points over second place Air Force.
Stephan Pietrobon and Sam Rennaker accounted for the two Purple Eagle (3-25-3, 3-20-2 AHC) tallies.
The two teams battled back and forth over the opening 40 minutes before Canisius was able to pull away in the third and earn its third win of the season against Niagara.
Mazza provided the game-winning tally at the 8:59 mark of the final period when he fired a slap shot from the right sidewall off the post and into the net to give the Griffs a 3-2 cushion.
McLeod provided the insurance marker with a little more than six minutes remaining, beating Niagara keeper Jackson Teichreob over the right shoulder with a wrist shot from the middle of the slot.
Niagara took a 1-0 lead just 1:40 into the contest when Pietrobon shoveled home a loose puck past Canisius keeper Charles Williams from just in front of the left post.
Hoover brought the Griffs level at the 12:41 of the opening frame, putting a snap shot past Teichroeb from the middle of the slot during a Canisius rush for his seventh goal of the season.
The teams once again traded goals during the second period. Fortman gave Canisius its first lead of the game, 2-1, at the 15:44 mark when he beat Teichroeb glove side with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle during a Griffs power play opportunity.
The Purple Eagles countered just 1:14 later when Rennaker slid the puck past Williams and into the net during a breakaway to knot the score at 2-2 and set up the decisive third period.
Williams made 19 saves in goal for Canisius while Teichroeb turned aside 28 shots between the pipes for Niagara.
Head Coach Dave Smith’s Postgame Comments
“It feels good tonight because tonight we had to buckle down and win the effort game. We had high effort and there was some adversity because Niagara is playing well right now. It’s really hard to win in Atlantic Hockey and tonight was a typical Atlantic Hockey game. It feels good to get the two points and move on.”
“In the third period it was all about short shifts and high energy. The line of Casey Jerry, David Bennett and Matt McLeod played very well and brought a lot of energy playing in Niagara’s zone. They scored a big insurance goal tonight. That line can really help keep everyone else fresh and we were able to do that tonight. It made a huge difference.”
- Canisius picked up its fifth straight victory against Niagara dating back to last season as it moved to 17-17-4 against the Purple Eagles in the Division I era of the series.
- The contest was part of the annual Battle of the Bridge series between the two schools. The victory gives Canisius an 18-7 lead in the series this season and means the Griffs will retain at least a share of the Canal Cup.
- The victory was the 16th this season for the Griffs in Atlantic Hockey competition, the most in a single season in league play during the Dave Smith era. The previous best was 15, set during the 2014-15 campaign.
- Canisius improved to 14-0-2 this season when scoring three or more goals in a game.
- The Griffs moved to 8-2-5 at HARBORCENTER in 2016-17. Canisius is 4-0-1 in its last five home games.
- The Griffs were 1-for-3 on the power play as they scored with the man advantage for the 11th time in last 12 games.
- Sophomore Jimmy Mazza recorded his second multiple-point contest in as many games with a goal and an assist on Wednesday.
- Senior Geoff Fortman notched multiple points in a game for the second time this season with a goal and an assist on Wednesday.
- Freshman Matt Hoover posted his third multiple point game of the season on Wednesday with a goal and an assist.
- Sophomore Matt McLeod recorded his second goal of the season with his third-period tally. Both goals have come at home against Niagara.
- Senior Charles Williams picked up his 17th win of the season, moving him one win away from matching Tony Capobianco (2012-13) for first place on the program’s single-season wins chart.
- The teams complete their regular season series Friday with a 7:05 p.m. contest at Dwyer Arena.
- The matchup serves as part of the Battle of the Bridge series between the two schools.