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  • Colton Pankiewicz

Hockey grabs a point against Niagara, must-win weekend up ahead against Bentley

By Colton Pankiewicz, Sports Editor

Canisius’ 3–2 overtime loss to Niagara marks the third time this season Canisius failed to grab a win against the Battle of the Bridge rival, and this makes the weekend series against Bentley dire.

“It’s disappointing to get one point out of it. I liked our effort in the third period — right now we’re riding that down of the rollercoaster. … We got work to do, but I still love our team,” said Canisius head coach Trevor Large.

Untimely penalties have hurt the Griffs all season. Taking three penalties in the first 20 minutes of play showed just that as Niagara took a first-period lead. Canisius forward Christian Macdougald thought he tied the game at one after finding the back of the net late into the period, but the refs ultimately called it back on goalie interference. 

The two teams traded blows in the second as Niagara’s Luke Mylymok extended his team’s lead by two before Griff’s D-man Robert Kincaid cut his team’s deficit in half. Kincaid was able to sneak a wrist shot by the opposing goalie on the backend of a five minute power play as a result of a Niagara slash.

The game stayed at 2–1 until the third period, when David Melaragni found Randy Hernandez wide open down low for a one-time blast that knotted the game at two. Later that period, Canisius’s Oliver Tarr broke up a Niagara attempt and took it the other way on an odd-man rush before being denied by the Niagara netminder.

 Both teams were able to take a point from regulation and headed into the overtime period ready to take a second point. It didn’t take long for Canisius to see that second point diminish as Niagara’s Josef Mysak buried the game-winner off of a loose puck opportunity. 

Canisius outshot rival Niagara 40–37 as Ethan Robertson stopped 34 shots in the effort. Canisius had major struggles in the faceoff circle, with Niagara winning 42 out of a possible 65 faceoff attempts. 

The brightest spot of the Griffs last handful of games has been senior Randy Hernandez. The forward has five points in his last four games, with a time-high three goals in that same span. To turn around what’s been a roller coaster ride of a season, Hernandez said, “We need to start on time, stay out of the box, while avoiding stupid penalties. Knowing when to hit guys and getting in front of them and using the body.” Despite the team's struggles of late, Hernandez went on to say, “We’re a tight-knit group, even with the amount of games we have left. We head into every game with the belief we're winning, that hasn’t changed.”

The Griffs have an opportunity to climb up the leaderboard this weekend with a series at home against Bentley on Friday and Saturday. With two games in hand, Canisius trails Bentley by four points in the standing for the battle of sixth place. A weekend sweep could improve the Griffs’ spot in the standings in addition to their postseason outlook, but Bentley, who has now lost three of their last four, will be looking for a get-back game as well.

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