"We challenged our team in the fourth quarter and they responded," said Canisius head coach Randy Mearns. "Our defense had to shut the door, Mike Moran needed to get us the ball from the faceoff X and our offense needed to bury their chances and they all did just that. We knew this game was going to be a battle as every conference game is. VMI got the momentum and tied the game in the fourth quarter but we regained our focus in the last 10 minutes and gutted out this win."
Freshman Vince Gravino led the Griffs with career-best totals of seven points, four goals and three assists. Senior Joe Rautenstrauch chipped in his first collegiate hat trick, while sophomore Austin Romantic added two tallies. Sophomore Brandon Bull rounded out the scoring with a goal.
Sophomore Tim Edwards paced the Canisius attack with a career-best four assists in the win.
Sophomore Alex Govenettio earned his first collegiate victory in net, posting seven saves to anchor the Canisius defense.
Senior Mike Moran led the Griffs at the faceoff X, winning 12-of-20 restarts. Moran also collected a team-best six ground balls with sophomore defender Adam Donner recording a team-high two caused turnovers to go along with a career-best four ground balls.
The Griffs started the contest strong, especially on the defensive end by limiting the Keydets to just two first-half tallies. Rautenstrauch gave Canisius the early lead with 8:26 remaining in the first and Romantic scored a man-up goal right before the end of the opening period for a 2-0 lead after 15 minutes of play.
Bull extended the Canisius lead to three but the Keydets responded with two tallies 65 seconds apart to pull within one, 3-2. The Griffs and Gravino, however, controlled the remainder of the first half to seize control of the contest. The rookie scored the final three goals of the second quarter, finishing the run with just eight seconds remaining, to send Canisius into the half with a 6-2 lead.
The Keydets would fight back, slowing creeping back into the game while holding the Griffs scoreless for the first 21-plus minutes of the second half. VMI netted four unanswered goals to start the second 30 minutes of action with Bernie Mowbray's tally with 10:41 remaining in regulation knotting the contest at six.
Canisius, however, would respond with a four-goal run of its own to seal its first win of the 2013 season. Rautenstrauch gave the Griffs the lead for good with his second score with 8:38 remaining. Romantic then netted his second man-up goal of the game with 7:33 left and Gravino tallied his fourth of the contest just six seconds later, scoring off a faceoff win by Moran. Rautenstrauch extended the Canisius lead to four, 10-6, with 3:32 left to complete his first career hat trick before VMI finished the scoring for the day with 23 seconds remaining for the 10-7 final.
Canisius finished the game with a 39-31 advantage in shots and 34-26 edge in ground balls. Mowbray and Russell East led the Keydets with two goals, while Matt Lindemann recorded 13 saves in net.
The Griffs continue MAAC play next weekend with a home contest against Marist. Canisius and the Red Foxes are set to meet on Saturday at the Demske Sports Complex with game time slated for 7 p.m.
Game Notes: Gravino's seven points are the most by a Griff rookie since Adam Jones also recorded seven points (4g, 3a) in a win over Robert Morris on April 8, 2008 ... Govenettio failed to post double-digit saves in a start for the first time in his career, ending the best run a Canisius player to start their career (five games) ... Rautenstrauch now has seven goals this season after not recording one in 26 games during his first three seasons ... The Griffs have converted 5-of-13 man-up chances in their last two games (38.4 percent) after starting the season just 2-of-13 (15.3 percent) .. The assist for Moran on Gravino's fourth goal was his first point at Canisius.