Seven games against NCAA Tournament teams and 14 home contests highlight the 2013-14 schedule for the Canisius College hockey team, announced by head coach Dave Smith on Wednesday.
“Coming off our first Atlantic Hockey Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance, there is a lot of excitement around our program right now,” Smith said. “Our schedule is once again very challenging and will best prepare us to defend our league title. Our Atlantic Hockey slate is as challenging as ever with a number of great teams in league. Also being able to play schools that advanced to the Frozen Four and from conferences such as the Big Ten, Hockey East and the NCHC helps us gain a lot of experience and I’m really looking forward to the season.”
The reigning Atlantic Hockey champions, Canisius opens the campaign at local rival Niagara on Oct. 12. The matchup pits the league’s regular-season champion in the Purple Eagles against the postseason champion in the Griffs and is also a rematch of the 2013 Atlantic Hockey Semifinals – a 5-3 Canisius victory.
The Griffs then remain on the road to play Air Force (Oct. 25), non-conference foes Denver (Oct. 26) and Miami (Nov. 1-2) and league rival Robert Morris (Nov. 8).
Canisius, playing in its final season at the Buffalo State Sports Arena before moving to the newly constructed HARBORcenter the following year, host Merychurst in its home opener on Nov. 9. The contest will also mark a rematch of the 2013 Atlantic Hockey title game, which was won by the Griffs, 7-2.
The Griffs are also slated to play at Ohio State (Nov. 15-16) and against UMass Lowell (Dec. 28) and Vermont (Dec. 29) in the Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup in Burlington, Vt.
Overall, the Griffs play 27 of their 34 games against Atlantic Hockey foes. Canisius meets each team from the western pod – Air Force, Mercyhurst, Niagara, RIT and Robert Morris – three teams, while playing each team from the eastern pod twice. The Griffs host Connecticut, Sacred Heart and Bentley for two games, while traveling to face Army, Holy Cross and AIC.
Canisius begins its quest for a second-straight Atlantic Hockey championship when the tournament begins on March 7. The top four teams in the regular-season standings receive a bye in the first round, which is a best 2-of-3 series from March 7 to March 9. After an additional best 2-of-3 quarterfinal series (March 14-16), the four advancing teams will meet on March 21 and 22 in Rochester, N.Y. to determine the league’s champion.
The Griffs return 22 letterwinners from its most successful season in school history for the 2013-14 campaign. Canisius won the program’s first Atlantic Hockey Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history, while also finishing the season ranked 19th in the final USCHO.com national poll, the highest placement in the program’s history.