"We had great execution and great effort tonight," said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. "We played really well. I wouldn't change anything but the end result."
Minutes after not converting a penalty shot in overtime, the Griffs were unable to keep the Huskies from scoring on the power play. The puck squirted out to Alex Gerke on the back door and the junior finished for the 4-3 victory.
Freshmen Cody Freeman, Mitch McCrank and Tyler Wiseman all scored for the Griffs.
Senior Dan Morrison recorded 20 saves to anchor the Canisius defense.
The Griffs grabbed the early advantage when Freeman netted the first goal of his collegiate career. Off a faceoff victory, Freeman took the puck to the net and it trickled into the goal for the 1-0 lead 4:34 into the contest. Sophomore Patrick Sullivan posted the only assist on the goal.
The Huskies answered back less than two minutes later on the power play to knot the game at one. Billy Latta's blast from the blue line found the back of the net at the 6:21 mark to square the contest. Connecticut then gained the lead 10:02 into the first when Brant Harris swatted a deflected shot in for the 2-1 advantage.
The Griffs knotted the contest at two 3:57 into the second period, taking advantage of minutes of sustained pressure in the Connecticut zone. Quick passes from sophomore Taylor Law and Wiseman led to an open look for McCrank, who finished for his third goal of his rookie campaign.
Canisius then regained its lead at the 9:57 mark of the second when Wiseman scored his fourth goal of his freshman season. Law threw the puck to the front of the goal from the right boards and Wiseman buried his shot for the 3-2 lead. McCrank also registered an assist on the goal.
Connecticut once again answered back, tying the game with 6:29 left in the second period when Cole Schneider scored on a breakaway for the 3-3 score after two.
After a scoreless third frame, both teams had great chances in the first few minutes of overtime. Canisius senior Scott Moser hit the pipe 1:35 into the period and Morrison then denied Schneider twice on breaks for the Huskies. The senior netminder first came up with a save on 2-on-1 break with 17:45 left in overtime and then recorded a stop on a 3-on-1 rush with 16 minutes remaining in the extra session.
Wiseman then nearly scored on a wrap-around with 12:15 left, but the puck did everything but cross the goal line before a Connecticut player swatted it away. His attempt did draw a penalty shot as the Huskies were whistled for delay of game for knocking the net off. Wiseman, however,could not convert to keep the game deadlocked at three before the Huskies netted their second power-play goal of the game.
The Griffs held a convincing edge in shots on the night, outshooting the Huskies 39-24. Connecticut scored power-play goals in both of its chances, while Canisius was 0-for-2 with the extra-man advantage.
Game two in the best 2-of-3 series is set for tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m.
Game Notes: Canisius is now 3-2 in overtime during Atlantic Hockey Tournament contests, ending its two-game winning streak ... Moser appeared in his 115th-straight game, setting the program's iron man streak ... The senior captain entered the game tied for the longest streak with Billy Irish-Baker ... The Griffs' 39 shots are one off their season high (vs. Sacred Heart, Jan. 21), while the 24 shots by Connecticut are the second fewest allowed by Canisius this season (22 vs. Lake Superior State, Nov. 20) ... The Griffs lost a game for the first time this season when netting the first goal.