BUFFALO – Canisius scored three times in the first period and senior Charles Williams stopped all 32 shots he faced as the Griffs extended the nation’s longest active unbeaten streak to 15 games with a 4-0 victory over Mercyhurst in Atlantic Hockey Conference action Thursday at KeyBank Rink at HARBORCENTER.
Junior Ryan Schmelzer and sophomores Alex Jaeckle and Cameron Heath scored in the first period while freshman Jesse Pereira added an insurance marker in the second for Canisius (19-10-7, 18-4-6 AHC), who finished the regular season with 42 points, three ahead of second-place Air Force, who still has two regular season games left to play.
Williams made the most of the early cushion, turning aside 12 shots in the first period and 10 tries from the Lakers in both the second and third to post his school-record fifth shutout of the season. Williams also set a school mark for wins in a season with his 19th victory between the pipes.
Jaeckle opened the scoring just 4:17 into the contest when he fired a slap shot from the right point through a screen and past Mercyhurst keeper Brandon WIldung to give Canisius the early advantage.
Schmelzer doubled the Griffs’ cushion to 2-0 a little more than three minutes later, completing a tic-tac-toe passing sequence with a one-timer from the bottom of the slot during a Canisius power play.
Heath capped the first period barrage with 1:16 to play in the opening frame when his wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle beat Wildung glove side to make it a 3-0 contest.
Pereira increased the Canisius cushion to 4-0 at the 7:40 mark of the second period, beating Lakers backup netminder Colin DeAugustine blocker side from close range.
Wildung got the start in goal for the Lakers (12-17-4, 11-12-4 AHC), making seven saves in the first period before being replaced by DeAugustine at the start of the second. DeAugustine played the final 40 minutes in goal for Mercyhurst, turning aside 34-of-35 shots faced.
Head Coach Dave Smith’s Postgame Comments
“Our guys did a really good job of resetting after each period tonight. Mercyhurst has a lot of skill; they took a lot of pucks to the net tonight, but we didn’t give them any second-chance opportunities. We had to bear down tonight to get the win.
“Our power play looked really strong tonight. Those were two big power play goals for us in the first. I also thought our penalty kill set the tone tonight. We gained some confidence and then we reset. We came out in the second period and played really well. We threw 20 shots on net; we established the way we wanted to play a little bit better in the second period. In the first period, Mercyhurst had an advantage statistically and we had to re-focus and reset and we did that.”
- Canisius improved to 27-29-6 against Mercyhurst in the Division I era of the series. The Griffs also moved to 9-3-1 against the Lakers since the start the 2013 Atlantic Hockey Championship
- Canisius extended its unbeaten streak to 15 games with its victory Thursday, matching Denver for the longest stretch of games between losses in NCAA Division I this season. The Pioneers went 15 games between losses from Oct. 14 to Dec. 10.
- Canisius finished the regular season with a 9-2-5 mark at HARBORCENTER. The Griffs were 5-0-1 in their final six games at home of the regular season.
- The Griffs improved to 16-0-2 when scoring three or more goals in a game. Canisius has tallied three or more goals in each of the last four contests.
- Canisius moved to 16-0-2 this season overall and 16-0-0 against Atlantic Hockey competition when scoring the first goal of the game.
- Canisius was 2-for-3 on the power play as it scored with the man advantage for the 13th time in the last 14 games.
- Senior Charles Williams established school marks for wins (19) and shutouts (5) in a season with his victory Thursday, breaking the old standards set by Tony Capobianco during the 2012-13 campaign.
- Sophomore Alex Jaeckle recorded his third game-winning goal of the season with his first-period tally. All three of Jaeckle’s goals this season have been game winners.
- Junior Jack Stander picked up his third assist in four games with a helper on Jaeckle’s game-winning marker.
- Sophomroe Dylan McLaughlin reached the 30-point plateau for the first time in his career with an assist on Ryan Schmelzer’s first-period tally.
- Canisius has secured a top-two seed for the Atlantic Hockey Conference Tournament.
- The Griffs have a three-point lead on second-place Air Force, but the Falcons have two games remaining at home against Sacred Heart Friday and Saturday.
- Canisius will host a best-of-three quarterfinal round series at HARBORCENTER March 10-12.
- The Griffs will learn their opponent at the conclusion of the first round of the AHC Tournament, slated for March 3-5 between teams seeded 6-11.
- Tickets are available for the quarterfinal round series at ticketmaster.com or by calling 716-888-TIXX.