"I'm definitely proud of the way our young group competed today," said Canisius head coach Randy Mearns. "At the same time the loss stings. We were in this game throughout and didn't capitalize on some glorious opportunities. We will certainly build from this.
"We need to do a better job at the faceoff X and the ground ball battle. Air Force is a solid squad but we have to grow from that experience and prepare for another challenge against Denver tomorrow."
Sophomore Cody Gould led the Canisius offense on the day, netting his first collegiate hat trick in his first career start. Sophomore Tim Edwards and freshman Vince Gravino also recorded three points with two goals and one assist.
Sophomore Austin Romantic rounded out the scoring for Canisius with a goal, while sophomore Brandon Bull recorded a team-high two assists.
Sophomore Alex Govenettio registered 10 saves in net to anchor the Canisius defense.
The first period was even throughout as the teams battled back-and-fourth. On three occasions, Air Force took the lead only to see the Griffs respond and tie the game as the schools headed into the second period knotted at three.
Canisius grabbed its first lead of the day with 8:02 remaining in the second 15 minutes of play when Gravino netted his second goal in his first collegiate contest. The Falcons, however, were the team to answer this time, scoring just 67 seconds before the intermission to tie the match at four.
The Falcons (3-1) then took advantage to start the second half. Air Force outshot the Griffs, 16-4, in the third quarter and netted six of the first eight goals of the half to take a 10-6 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the game.
Canisius attempted to fight back with goals by Gould and Edwards but it wasn't enough as Air Force earned its third win in four games this season.
The Falcons finished the game with a 47-33 advantage in shots and a 34-23 edge in ground balls. Air Force was also 2-for-4 with the extra-man advantage, while Canisius was 1-for-3.
Keith Dreyer led the Falcons with three goals, while Austin Fox recorded 12 saves to earn the win. Air Force was also 15-of-21 in faceoffs, including a 9-of-10 performance from Bryan Price.
Canisius continues play at the Frontier Airlines Face-Off Classic tomorrow afternoon, playing host Denver. The Griffs and 11th-ranked Pioneers are set to meet at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Game Notes: All eight Canisius goals were scored by underclassmen ... With his three tallies, Gould matched his goal total from his entire rookie season ... In addition to Gravino, six other Griffs saw their first collegiate action on Saturday ... The schools were meeting for the first time ... Canisius has now lost its last 11 season openers with its last opening-day victory coming in 2002 against VMI.