Niagara scored three third-period goals to rally for a 4-2 victory over the Canisius College hockey team on Saturday night. The loss drops the Griffs to 10-15-3 and 9-9-3 in Atlantic Hockey play, while the Purple Eagles improve to 9-15-4 and 9-8-4 against league foes.
“It was a spirited affair where our guys battled hard to get the game in our favor but we couldn’t finish the game how we wanted to,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “I’m confident that our team will find a way to win this type of game in the future.”
Junior Braeden Rigney and sophomore Ralph Cuddemi both scored for the Griffs in the defeat.
Senior Tony Capobianco recorded 28 saves in net.
The Purple Eagles opened the scoring 6:33 into the contest when Sam Alfieri netted a goal on a power play for the early 1-0 advantage.
Canisius answered the Niagara tally when Rigney scored his seventh goal of the season. Entering the zone on a rush, junior Mitch McCrank fired a shot that hit the Niagara netminder. The puck trickled toward the net and Rigney knocked it in to pull Canisius even. Freshman defender Geoff Fortman also registered an assist on the goal with 4:41 remaining in the first.
The Griffs grabbed the lead thanks to Cuddemi’s ninth goal of the season. On the power play, the sophomore banked a shot off a Niagara defender and into the net for a 2-1 Canisius lead. Freshman Shane Conacher and senior Kyle Gibbons both posted assists on the extra-man goal 5:54 into the second frame.
Niagara, however, rallied for the win with a three-goal third period. The run was ignited when the linesman called a five-minute major penalty on Canisius and Alfieri took advantage to tie the game at two with 14:46 remaining in regulation. The Purple Eagles then scored the go-ahead goal with 7:11 left when Matt Chiarantano finished a rush and Niagara would then seal the contest with an empty-net goal with 11 ticks remaining for the 4-2 win.
The Purple Eagles finished the game with a 32-24 advantage in shots. Niagara was 2-for-6 on the power play, while the Griffs converted 1-of-5 extra-man chances.
Canisius continues Atlantic Hockey play next weekend with a series against Air Force. The schools are set to begin the two-game set at the Buffalo State Sports Arena on Friday at 7:05 p.m.
Game Notes: Derrick Bishop was honored before Saturday’s game as he is set to be inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame on Sunday. Bishop collected 144 points for the Griffs from 1991 to 1995 … Gibbons moved into sole possession of fourth place in the program’s Division I history with 120 career points, breaking a tie with David Deeves … Canisius lost for the first time when holding a lead after two periods (entered the game 5-0-2 when up through 40 minutes) … Canisius now leads the Battle of the Bridge series, an all-sports competition between the two schools, 10.5-8.5.