Denver, Colo. – The Canisius College hockey team scored a 4-1 upset against nationally-ranked Denver on Saturday night in front of 5,153 fans at Magness Arena. The Griffs earned their first win of the season with the victory, improving to 1-2-0, while the 17th-ranked Pioneers drop to 3-3-0.
“Tonight, we put together good positioning with high intensity,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “Leading up to this game, it was one or the other. We got great goaltending and had goals from our power-play unit, penalty kill, empty net and 5-on-5. We were very hard to play against tonight, which is the recipe for us to win.”
Senior Kyle Gibbons, junior Cody Freeman and sophomores Mathew Backhouse and Ralph Cuddemi all registered goals in the victory.
Junior Keegan Asmundson stopped a career-best 36 shots to earn the win in his first start of the season and the third of his career.
The Griffs grabbed the lead when Freeman netted his second goal of the season, connecting on the power play 9:37 into the game. Senior defender Ben Danford fired a shot from the blue line and Freeman redirected the puck into the back of the net for the game’s first tally. Junior Mitch McCrank also registered an assist on the power-play score.
Special teams added a second goal for the Griffs when Gibbons netted a short-handed goal 3:51 into the second stanza. The senior forced a turnover in the Griffs’ defensive zone and skated in 1-on-1 with the goalie, finishing high for the 2-0 lead and his second tally of the season.
Backhouse then netted his first collegiate tally with a great individual effort. The sophomore defender skated into the Denver zone and around a number of Pioneer defenders before cramming the puck into the net for the 3-0 Canisius lead. Juniors Doug Jessey and Tyler Wiseman both registered an assist on the goal 8:25 into the second.
The Pioneers finally found the back of the net with 7:43 remaining in regulation, pulling within two, 3-1, when Shore Quentin scored on the power play. However, the Griffs sealed the victory over nationally-ranked Denver when Cuddemi scored an empty-net goal with 2:31 remaining. Junior Matthew Grazen posted the assist on the game-clinching tally.
Denver finished the game with a 37-21 advantage in shots. Both teams scored one power-play goal on the night in four opportunities for Canisius and five for Denver.
Sam Brittain posted 17 saves in defeat for the Pioneers.
Canisius continues non-conference action next weekend, starting a two-game series against No. 3 Miami on Friday. Game time in Oxford, Ohio is set for 7:35 p.m.
Game Notes: Canisius and Denver were meeting for the first time … The Griffs are now 6-24-2 all-time against ranked teams with the Pioneers marking the first victory for Canisius against a ranked non-conference foe … The Griffs are also 2-16-1 all-time against schools from the NCHC … Gibbons has now recorded a point in 13-straight games dating back to last season. It is the longest streak by a Griff since Chris Duggan recorded a point in 15-consecutive contests from Jan. 15 to March 9, 2002 … Canisius has scored at least one power-play goal in all three games this season and is 4-for-15 on the season (26.7 percent) to go along with two short-handed tallies … Special teams have accounted for 60.0 percent of the team’s goals this season (6-of-10).