The Canisius College hockey team rallied from a two-goal third-period deficit for a 5-4 victory against Sacred Heart on Sunday afternoon. The Griffs, who scored two goals in the final 2:26 of regulation to earn the win, improve to 8-10-1 on the season and 7-4-1 in Atlantic Hockey play, while the Pioneers drop to 5-16-0 and 4-10-0 against league foes.
“It’s a sign of a veteran team that we were able to stay the course when things weren’t going our way,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “We had a number of chances early and good puck possession but Sacred Heart played well today and had a late two-goal lead. We were very resilient though and our seniors, who have been in this situation before, found a way late to get a big two points out of the game.”
Seniors Ben Danford and Kyle Gibbons both recorded a point on the Griffs’ final two tallies, each netting a goal to go along with an assist.
Junior Braeden Rigney and sophomores Ralph Cuddemi and Chris Rumble also scored for Canisius in the victory.
The Pioneers wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, netting a goal just 47 seconds into the game. Evan Jasper finished a 2-on-1 himself and fired the puck into the net for the early 1-0 lead.
The Griffs answered back and tallied a pair of goals just 39 seconds apart midway through the period. Rumble opened the scoring for Canisius with his fourth goal of the season at the 10:20 mark. Sophomore Stephen Miller and freshman Jack Hidi fought for the puck along the boards and found Rumble on the blue line. The sophomore defender then sent a wrist shot into the net to square the contest at one.
Rigney then gave the Griffs their first lead of the afternoon just 39 seconds later. On a 3-on-2 rush, senior Ryan Bohrer fired a shot on goal and Rigney was there to clean up the rebound for his fourth tally of the year. Junior Carl Larsson also recorded an assist on the goal.
Unfortunately for Canisius, its lead lasted just 19 seconds as Sacred Heart responded with its second goal. Jordan Minello knocked a rebound in with 8:42 remaining in the period to knot the game at two.
The Pioneers then reclaimed the lead in the second period with two more tallies from rebounds. Will Rayner gave Sacred Heart the advantage with 10:32 left and Jeff Carroll then stretched the lead to two with 9:11 remaining in the period.
Canisius answered back in the third period and scored three goals in the final 11 minutes for the victory. Cuddemi started the rally with his sixth goal of the season with 10:56 remaining in regulation. Miller sent a shot on goal and after the save, Cuddemi found the loose puck in the slot and fired it in for the 4-3 score. Junior Tyler Wiseman also registered an assist on the tally that brought the Griffs within one.
Gibbons then knotted the contest at four, connecting on the power play with 2:26 left in regulation. The senior buried a slap shot from the point off passes from Danford and freshman Shane Conacher for his ninth goal of the season.
Danford then finished the Canisius rally with his third goal of the season with just 32 seconds remaining. From the point, Gibbons fired a shot on goal but the Sacred Heart netminder could not locate the loose puck in front of the net. Junior Cody Freeman knocked the puck to Danford and the senior defender scored from close range for the 5-4 final score.
Canisius finished the contest with a 38-29 advantage in shots. The Griffs were also 1-for-3 on the power play, while killing both Sacred Heart power plays.
Junior Keegan Asmundson stopped seven third-period shots to earn the win in net for the Griffs with senior Tony Capobianco recording 18 saves in the first two periods. Alex Vazzano posted 33 saves in defeat for the Pioneers.
The schools wrap up the two-game series tomorrow afternoon at the Buffalo State Sports Arena. Game time is slated for 3:05 p.m.
Game Notes: Canisius remains the only unbeaten team in the country at home this season with a 4-0-1 record at the Buffalo State Sports Arena … The Griffs are now outscoring opponents, 20-10, in the third period this season after being outscored 22-18 in the first and 24-12 in the second frame … Gibbons is now in sole possession of second place in the program’s record book with 51 career tallies, breaking a tie with Jason Weeks … The Griffs are unbeaten in their last eight games (6-0-2) against the Pioneers.