West Springfield, Mass. – AIC ended a 15-game winless streak against the Canisius College hockey team on Saturday afternoon, earning a 5-3 victory against the Griffs. The loss drops Canisius to 10-14-2 on the season and 9-8-2 against Atlantic Hockey foes, while the Yellow Jackets improve to 7-18-1 and 6-12-1 in league play.
“AIC won the game in the first two periods today,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “They imposed their style of play on the game and were opportunistic with their opportunities. The passion that we played with in the third period needs to show up in the first 40 minutes as well for us to be our most successful. We knew coming into the weekend that AIC was dangerous off the rush and had an uncanny knack for loose pucks around the net and that’s how they got a two-goal lead after two periods.”
Senior Kyle Gibbons and juniors Doug Jessey and Braeden Rigney all scored for the Griffs in the defeat.
The Griffs grabbed the early lead in the contest thanks to Rigney’s sixth goal of the season. Jessey fired a shot off the goal post and Rigney was there to knock the rebound in for the 1-0 advantage. Freshman Josh Kielich also registered an assist on the goal 6:06 into the period.
The Yellow Jackets knotted the game just 68 seconds later when Alexander MacMillan scored but the Griffs responded just 32 seconds after losing the lead behind Gibbons’ 12th goal of the season. Sophomore defender Chris Rumble’s was wide of the net on a shot and senior Patrick Sullivan threw the puck out in front, where Gibbons would knock it for the 2-1 lead with 12:14 remaining in the opening period.
AIC once again answered back, scoring a short-handed goal with 9:25 remaining in the first when Dan Clairmont tipped a shot into the back of the net for the 2-2 score.
The Yellow Jackets then carried their momentum into the second frame and grabbed a two-goal advantage. Steven Hoshaw sent a blast on goal that netminder Tony Capobianco could only get a piece of before the puck trickled past the goal line 58 seconds into the frame. AIC extended its lead to two, taking advantage of a Canisius turnover in the neutral zone when Clairmont scored on a 3-on-2 break for a 4-2 lead with 9:45 remaining in the period.
Canisius pulled to within one with 17:23 remaining in regulation when Jessey scored his fifth goal of the season. The junior fired a shot into the back of the net off passes from Rumble and junior Mitch McCrank while on the power play for the 4-3 score.
The Griffs, however, were unable to find the equalizer, in the final 17-plus minutes and the Yellow Jackets sealed the victory with 28.5 seconds remaining with an empty-net goal for the 5-3 win.
Canisius finished the game with a 34-25 advantage in shots, including a 14-4 edge in the third period. The Griffs were 1-for-4 on the power play, while killing the only two AIC extra-man chances.
Capobianco and junior Keegan Asmundson combined to make 20 saves for the Griffs. Hunter Leisner stopped 31 shots to earn the win for the Yellow Jackets.
Canisius returns to action next week with a pair of games against Battle of the Bridge rival Niagara. The schools open the series in Lewiston on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m.
Game Notes: Canisius, who was 13-0-2 in its last 15 games against AIC, last lost to the Yellow Jackets on Nov. 17, 2007 … The loss also ended the Griffs’ four-game road winning streak, the longest for the team since the 2000-01 season … Canisius lost for the first time this season when outshooting its opponent … The Griffs also lost for only the second time this season when scoring three goals in a game (entered the game 10-1-0 this season when scoring three) … Rumble recorded a career-best two assists … All five of Jessey’s goals this season have come on the power play.