The Canisius College hockey team turned in one of its better defensive efforts of the season, anchored by a 24-save shutout from senior Tony Capobianco, to earn a 4-0 victory against Air Force on Friday night. The Griffs improve to 11-15-3 on the season with the win and 10-9-3 in Atlantic Hockey play, while the Falcons drop to 17-10-4 and 12-7-3 against league foes.
With his 24 saves, Capobianco recorded his sixth career shutout. He is now tied for the most in the program’s Division I history with Bryan Worosz (2001-05) and Andrew Loewen (2006-10). Overall, Canisius held the Falcons to just 24 shots – more than 10 shots below their season average in league play – with the Griffs blocking 17 Air Force shots.
“The difference tonight was our commitment to blocking shots and playing good hard team defense,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith.
Seniors Taylor Law and Patrick Sullivan and junior Mitch McCrank each recorded two points on the night with a goal and an assist. Freshman Shane Conacher rounded out the scoring for the Griffs with a goal.
Canisius seized the early momentum in the contest thanks to Sullivan’s ninth tally of the season. From behind the net, senior defender Ben Danford centered the puck to Sullivan in the low slot and the senior buried his chance for the 1-0 lead just 2:41 into the contest. Sophomore defender Mathew Backhouse also registered an assist on the go-ahead goal.
The Griffs stretched their advantage to two when McCrank scored on a breakaway. The junior skated in and finished high, glove-side for his third goal of the season and the 2-0 lead. Law and junior Doug Beck both registered assists on the goal 12:51 into the game.
The Canisius defense was at its best in the first two periods, especially on the penalty kill. After holding the Falcons to just four shots in the first period, the Griffs’ penalty kill was then asked to kill off three-straight Air Force power plays in the first half of the second frame. Canisius responded and held the Falcons to just three shots on the extra-man chances to preserve its two-goal lead. Overall, Air Force recorded just 11 shots in the first two periods.
The Griffs then took advantage in the third period with two goals to seal the victory. Law netted his fifth of the season with 3:10 remaining in regulation, beating an Air Force defender on a rush and scoring 1-on-1 with the goalie for the 3-0 lead. Sullivan and Danford both recorded assists on the goal.
Conacher then completed the scoring for the Griffs with an empty-net goal with 59 ticks remaining with assists going to McCrank and sophomore Ralph Cuddemi.
Overall, Canisius finished the game with a 26-24 advantage in shots. Neither team was able to score on the power play with the Griffs going 0-for-2 and killing all four of the Falcons’ extra-man chances.
The schools complete the season series tomorrow night with game time slated for 7:05 p.m. at the Buffalo State Sports Arena.
Game Notes: The shutout was the first-ever for the Griffs against Air Force in 25 all-time meetings and the four-goal margin of victory is also the greatest for Canisius in the series … It was the first shutout for Capobianco since the 2013 Atlantic Hockey First Round against Bentley (March 8, 2013) … Canisius has outshot its opponent in five of the last six games after outshooting its opponent in just two of the first 23 contests.