- Connor Pohlman
Griffs Hockey Splits Battle of the Bridge Weekend Series
By: Connor Pohlman, Sports Editor
In the first game of their weekend series against the Niagara Purple Eagles (13–11–2, 7–9–2 AHA) on Friday, Canisius (8–13–3, 6–7–3 AHA) earned a dominant 5–2 win. Senior Daniel DiGrande and sophomore Alton McDermott tallied two goals each to lead the Griffins at LECOM Harborcenter in downtown Buffalo.
The Golden Griffins extended their undefeated streak to four games with Friday's victory (3–0–1). Senior goaltender Jacob Barczewski recorded 37 saves between the pipes for Canisius to earn his seventh win of the season.
McDermott staked the Griffs to a 1–0 lead less than four minutes into the contest, wiring a wrist shot past the glove of Veltri that rang off both posts before settling into the cage to give Canisius the early advantage.
Niagara’s Carter Randklev evened the score a little more than four minutes later, firing a wrist shot over the right pad of Barczewski while on the rush to tie the game at 1–1.
Daniel DiGrande restored Canisius’s lead at the 2:13 mark of the second period when he snuck graduate student Erik Urbank's centering feed under the glove of Veltri to make it a 2–1 contest.
Randklev responded for the Purple Eagles just 61 seconds later, chipping a pass from Glebs Prohorenkovs over the glove of Barczewski from close range to pull Niagara back within one.
Coach Trevor Large spoke on the adversity the team faced, “These are good things, to put ourselves in games that are hard. To understand that how we respond is going to dictate our play and is ultra important.”
Canisius put the game out of reach moments later, however, striking twice in a 33-second span to build a three-goal cushion.
Hernandez made it a 4–2 game only 24 seconds after Randklev's second of the contest, putting home a cross-ice feed from graduate student Nick Bowman for his fourth of the season.
McDermott capped the barrage with his second of the game at the 12:55 mark of the frame, redirecting senior Markus Boguslavsky's pass into the Niagara goal for his sixth goal of the season.
In the second game of the back-to-backs, the Griffs would not be able to catch up against the Purple Eagles, as Niagara would run away with a victory of their own, taking the game with a 5–2 win.
Before puck drop, the Canisius hockey program honored Canadian hockey legend Paul Henderson, grandfather of sophomore forward Alton McDermott, with a ceremonial puck drop on his 80th birthday prior to the start of the game.
Henderson played 13 seasons in the National Hockey League for the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Atlanta Flames. Henderson played in two NHL All-Star games (‘72-’73) and totaled 477 points.
Niagara jumped out to an early 2–0 lead, striking twice in a span of 57 seconds.
Prohorenkovs extended the Niagara margin to 3–0 with a shorthanded tally 13 seconds into the frame. Miotto answered back for the Griffs 49 seconds later, firing a wrist shot past a screened Veltri for a power-play goal to make it a 3–1 contest.
Prohorenkovs restored the Purple Eagles three-goal cushion in the final seconds of the second period to give Niagara a 4–1 edge heading into the third.
Randklev expanded the Niagara margin to 5–1 near the midway point of the third with his third of the weekend before Hernandez closed out the scoring, beating Veltri from close range with less than four minutes to play to determine the final margin.
“It wasn’t our night,” Large said. “We need to get better, and whether you win or lose, you gotta learn.”
Canisius will look to rebound from their loss when they open their second home-and-home series of the season against regional rival RIT Friday Feb. 3 with a 7 p.m. contest at LECOM Harborcenter.