Junior Tony Capobianco recorded 35 saves and classmate Ryan Bohrer scored the only goal the Griffs needed as the Canisius College hockey team earned a 2-0 victory against No. 15 Niagara on Thursday night. With the win, the Griffs improve to 11-13-5 on the season and 10-8-2 in Atlantic hockey play, while the nationally-ranked Purple Eagles fall to 17-5-5 and 16-2-2 against league foes.
"It was a great win for us tonight," said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. "We showed a lot of battle and played a real good physical game. We played very well tonight but more importantly, we played a smart, aggressive and physical game."
After the schools battled to a scoreless opening frame - a period where Canisius was able to fire 16 shots on goal - it was the Griff defense that came up big early in the second period. The nation's fourth-ranked penalty kill unit proved its worthy of its high ranking by killing three-straight Niagara power plays, including a 1:22 of a 5-on-3 action.
The Griffs were then able to turn that momentum into a tally on the other end. On a power play of its own, Bohrer fired a shot into the back of the net top shelf from the right boards for the 1-0 lead with 4:46 remaining in the second. Freshman Chris Rumble and junior Duncan McKellar both recorded assists on the game-winning tally and Bohrer's third goal of the season.
The one score was all the offense that Capobianco needed on the night as the junior shut the door for his third shutout of the season and fourth of his career. The Griffs killed two more power plays in the third frame and Capobianco stopped all 10 shots in the period to preserve the clean sheet.
Sophomore Cody Freeman sealed the Griffs victory with an unassisted empty-net goal with 51 seconds left, his fourth tally of the season, as Canisius earned its fourth win in program history against a nationally-ranked school.
Niagara finished the game with a 35-24 advantage in shots on the night. Canisius won the special teams battle, going 1-for-4 on the power play and killing all seven Purple Eagle extra-man chances.
The schools wrap up the season series on Saturday at Niagara. Game time in Lewiston is set for 7:05 p.m.
Game Notes: The Griffs are now 4-21-2 all-time against nationally-ranked schools ... Canisius is a perfect 4-0-0 against ranked schools in Atlantic Hockey ... The No. 15 ranking matches the highest-ranked team the Griffs have beaten (No. 15 Air Force during the 2008-09 season) ... In four games against nationally-ranked schools this season, Capobianco owns a 1.51 goals against average and .962 save percentage ... Canisius won a game for the first time this season when failing to score three goals in a contest (entered 0-13-4) ... The Griffs have scored a power-play goal in five-straight games for the first time since Jan. 9 to Jan. 22, 2009 ... Canisius has converted 28.6 percent of its power plays (10-of-35) in its last nine games ... Capobianco now shares the program record with three shutouts this season, becoming the sixth Griff to accomplish the feat ... Niagara now leads the 2012-13 Battle of the Bridge series, 10-6.