By: Connor Pohlman
Kicking off their two-game series against Bentley, Canisius would score five unanswered goals, overcoming an early deficit and defeating the Falcons 5-1 in Atlantic Hockey Association action Friday at Bentley Arena in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Four players - graduate student J.D. Pogue and seniors Daniel DiGrande, Lincoln Erne and Ryan Miotto - all finished with a goal and an assist for the Golden Griffins (7-12-3, 5-6-3 AHA). Sophomore Alton McDermott accounted for the fifth Canisius goal, while senior goaltender Jacob Barczewski stopped 23 shots, record his sixth victory of the season.
Bentley took a 1-0 lead just 1:41 seconds into the contest when Merritt deposited a rebound into the Canisius goal moments after Nicholas Niemo rang a wrist shot off the left post.
Pogue brought the Griffs level at the 13:11 mark of the opening frame, collecting a pass from fellow graduate student Erik Urbank deep in the Falcons zone before shoveling a backhanded effort past the right pad of Grabko to knot the score at 1-1.
Erne put Canisius in front with less than three minutes to play in the first period, zipping a wrist shot by the blocker of Grabko from the right face-off circle for his first collegiate tally to make it a 2-1 contest.
McDermott stretched the Canisius advantage to 3-1 just before the midway point of the second period, depositing a feed from Pogue past the glove of Grabko during a rush opportunity for his fourth goal of the season.
Miotto and DeGrande continued the scoring in the third period, hammering the nail in the coffin to seal the win.
“It took us that long to get going and once we did, we solidified how we wanted to play,” head coach Trevor Large said. “We were much more together; we were ready to win battles; we started to make some plays in the offensive zone and during line rushes. We did a really nice job of that.”
In the next game of the series, Canisius used a pair of third-period goals to erase a two-goal deficit and earn a 2-2 tie against Bentley.
Seniors Simon Gravel and Keaton Mastrodonato found the back of the net during the third period for the Golden Griffins. Barczewski recorded 34 saves in goal for the Blue and Gold.
Following a scoreless first, Bentley got on the board just 2:01 into the second period as Merritt beat Barczewski with a wrist shot to the blocker side while on the rush for his second goal of the series.
Niemo doubled the Falcon's advantage to 2-0 with 16:04 elapsed in the middle frame, converting on a 2-on-1 opportunity by chipping the puck over the glove of Barczewski from close range for his fourth of the campaign.
Canisius got within one less than four minutes into the third when Gravel deflected junior Randy Hernandez's shot from near the left sidewall past the glove of Hadley and into the Bentley goal to make it a 2-1 contest.
After a scoreless 3-on-3 overtime, the game moved to the shootout. Bentley's Lucas Vanroboys was the only one of the six shooters to find the back of the net, beating Barczewski with a wrist shot to the blocker side to give the Falcons a 1-0 win to earn the extra point in the standings.
Canisius returns to action Jan. 27-28 when it hosts Battle of the Bridge rival Niagara for a two-game Atlantic Hockey Association series. Both games of the weekend set are slated for a 7 p.m. start at LECOM Harborcenter in downtown Buffalo.