The Canisius College hockey team rallied from an early two-goal deficit and finished with the final five tallies of the game in a 5-2 victory over RIT on Tuesday night. With the win, the Griffs improve to 3-7-0 and 2-3-0 in Atlantic Hockey play, while the Tigers drop to 1-6-2 and 1-3-0 against league foes.
Senior Kyle Gibbons led the Griffs with three points on the night, scoring two goals to go along with one assist. With his three points, Gibbons became the eighth player in the program’s Division I history and the 28th Griff overall to record 100 career points. The senior from Westlake, Ohio now has 47 goals and 53 assists during his collegiate tenure.
Senior Ben Danford, sophomore Mathew Backhouse and freshman Jack Hidi also scored for the Griffs in the 5-2 victory.
Senior netminder Tony Capobianco stopped 34 shots to earn his first victory of the season.
“Our senior leadership and penalty kill were two big reasons why we won tonight,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “Our seniors responded with great leadership not only when we were down early but also after we evened the game and took the lead. Kyle Gibbons and Ben Danford both provided big goals. Tony Capobianco looked confident in net no matter what the score was and both Ryan Bohrer and Patrick Sullivan provided great leadership on the bench and with their play. We also created a hole with three-straight penalties in the second period but our penalty kill responded and was key for us.”
The Tigers grabbed the early momentum in the game with two quick strikes from Dan Schuler, who knocked in a pair of rebounds just 2:06 apart to give RIT the 2-0 lead less than nine minutes into the contest.
Canisius, however, quickly answered back with two goals of its own in a 1:42 span. Backhouse opened the scoring for the Griffs with 7:20 remaining in the first, netting his second goal of the season. Junior Matthew Grazen won a face-off back to the point and Backhouse ripped a shot into the top corner above the goaltender’s left shoulder, cutting the Griffs’ deficit in half, 2-1.
Danford then quickly knotted the game with his second tally of the season, scoring on the power play. The senior defender one-timed a shot from the point into the back of the net to square the contest at two with 5:38 remaining in the opening period. Gibbons and junior Cody Freeman both posted assists on the game-tying tally.
In the second frame, it was the Canisius penalty kill that came up big to keep the game knotted up. The Griffs were whistled for three-straight penalties in the second half of the period but responded with three-straight kills. The Tigers, who entered the game with the nation’s third-ranked power play and also had 56 seconds of 5-on-3 action, could only muster one shot on net during the three extra-man opportunities.
Canisius then took advantage and ran away with the game early in the third period. Gibbons opened the scoring with a power-play tally 4:35 into the stanza, netting his fourth goal of the campaign. From the corner, sophomore Ralph Cuddemi found Gibbons open on the back door and the senior knocked it in for the go-ahead score. Danford also registered an assist on the power-play goal.
Just 48 seconds later, Hidi added his first collegiate goal to extend the Griffs lead to two, 4-2. On a 2-on-1 rush, senior Carl Larsson fed the rookie and Hidi knocked the puck in for the goal. Junior Braeden Rigney also added an assist on the tally 5:23 into the stanza.
The Griffs then sealed the victory when Gibbons netted his second of the day – and his 100th career point – with 10:17 remaining in regulation. On a rush, Cuddemi passed back to the senior and Gibbons finished from the slot for the 5-2 final score. Freeman also added his second assist of the night to complete the three-goal period for the Griffs.
Canisius finished the game with a 43-36 advantage in shots, including a season-high 17 shots in the third period. The Griffs also won the special teams battle, going 2-for-5 on the power play and killing all five RIT extra-man chances.
Jordan Ruby finished with 38 saves for the Tigers in the defeat.
Canisius returns to action on Friday, Nov. 29, hosting Connecticut in Atlantic Hockey play. The Griffs and Huskies are set to meet at the Buffalo State Sports Arena at 7:05 p.m.
Game Notes: Canisius has now killed off its opponent’s last 13 power plays after starting the season at just a 68.8 rate (22-of-32) … The Griffs fired a season-best 43 shots on net after entering the game averaging 24.2 shots per game … Hidi is the first Canisius freshmen to score a goal this season … The Griffs had two goals from defensemen for the first time this season … Canisius has won its first two home games of the season for the first time since the 2007-08 season … The Griffs extended their longest winning streak against RIT to four games.