Senior netminder Tony Capobianco set a pair of school records in a 3-0 victory against Sacred Heart on Friday night, helping lead the Canisius College hockey team to a win in game one of a best 2-of-3 Atlantic Hockey First Round series. The Griffs are now 13-19-3 on the season, while the Pioneers drop to 12-23-0.
Capobianco became the school’s all-time leader in saves and shutouts in the win. The senior stopped all 27 shots he saw to raise his career total to 2,839 – 10 more than the previous standard held by Dan Morrison. He also recorded his seventh career shutout to break a mark that he shared with Bryan Worosz and Andrew Loewen.
Senior Kyle Gibbons, junior Tyler Wiseman and freshman Shane Conacher all scored for the Griffs in the win.
“It was a hard, physical battle that we’re going to focus on repeating tomorrow night,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “It took each player competing at maximum effort to get a great victory and I’ll look for more of the same tomorrow as we try to advance to the next round.”
After a scoreless opening frame, Canisius struck early in the second to take a lead it would never relinquish. On the power play, senior defender Ben Danford sent a pass through the slot to an open Conacher. The rookie then buried his shot near post from the left face-off circle for his fourth goal of the season. Gibbons also registered an assist on the goal that gave Canisius a 1-0 lead 2:12 into the period.
The 1-0 scoreline remained that way until the third period when it was Capobianco’s turn to shine. The Pioneers had their best opportunity of the game early in the frame when a cross in the low slot gave Justin Danforth a nice look at net but the senior netminder was there to deny the chance. Two shots later, Capobianco recorded his record-breaking save to keep the Griffs ahead, 1-0.
Wiseman then doubled the Canisius lead to two when he netted his fifth goal of the season. Senior Taylor Law had his shot from close range saved but the rebound squirted loose and Wiseman was there to knock it in for the 2-0 advantage. Junior Mitch McCrank also registered an assist on the tally 6:22 into the period.
Canisius sealed the victory when Gibbons netted his team-leading 14th tally of the season with an empty net. Sophomore Mathew Backhouse and junior Cody Freeman both recorded assists on the goal with 1:53 remaining in regulation.
The Griffs finished the game with a 28-27 edge in shots. Canisius was 1-for-2 on the power play, while killing both of Sacred Heart’s extra-man chances.
Alex Vazzano recorded 25 saves in defeat for the Pioneers.
Canisius now looks to sweep the best 2-of-3 series tomorrow night when the schools meet at the Buffalo State Sports Arena at 7:05 p.m.
Game Notes: Dan Morrison (2008-12) held the previous record with 2,829 saves … Capobianco had previously shared the shutout record of six with Bryan Worosz (2001-05) and Andrew Loewen (2006-10) … In seven career Atlantic Hockey Tournament games, Capobianco owns a perfect 7-0-0 record with a 1.71 goals against average and .956 save percentage … Two of Capobianco’s school-record seven career shutouts have come in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament … Gibbons’ two points give him 17 in 11 career Atlantic Hockey Tournament games … McCrank now has nine points in his last 11 games after recording seven in his first 21 games of the year.