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  • Colton Pankiewicz

Hockey potentially lost double-digit players with the season-ending series loss to Holy Cross

By Colton Pankiewicz, Sports Editor

In the second overtime period of an elimination game against Holy Cross, Crusaders forward Jack Seymour found a pass from behind the net. His quick shot blew past Canisius’s Ethan Robertson, ending Canisius’s season and marking the last time many would wear the Golden Griffins jersey on the ice. 

Within a week of the 2–1 overtime loss against Holy Cross, three players have already signed pro-level deals with teams in the East Coast Hockey League.

Captain Max Kouznetsov and senior Powell Connor both signed with the Reading Royals on March 13. Kouznetsov served as the team captain in the 2023-24 season and was second on the team in points with 23. Kouznetsov finishes his career at Canisius with 71 points. Kouznetsov joins his father, who’s a staffer with the team and says he felt like the move was one he needed to make for himself.  Connor played large minutes as a top-four defenseman in his lone year as a Griff, scoring his first career goal in the first round of this year's playoffs against Mercyhurst. Prior to his time at Canisius, Connor played at Michigan State.

Graduate student Brenden Datema spent two years at Canisius, accounting two goals and 17 assists as a top-six defenseman across that span. He inked a deal with the Atlanta Gladiators on March 12 and was the first player to sign a pro contract this off-season.

Datema said he found out the morning after the season had ended that Atlanta was interested in signing him. By noon on Sunday he decided that he was going to sign, and, though their bus didn’t get back until 5 p.m on Sunday, he had a flight to Atlanta at noon the next day. 

“It feels like it's been a long time coming. Never really knew if it was going to happen but you trust your gut. It’s rewarding to see these other guys [Kouznetsov and Connor] signing too,” Datema said. 

With 15 seniors and graduate students on the roster in the 2023-24 season, the number of players signed into leagues is expected to grow. The only player who has stated that they are planning to return for a fifth year is senior defenseman Jackson Decker, though with many seniors receiving a fifth year of eligibility as a result of the pandemic, the potential for more to return is there.

Photo courtesy of Tom Wolf/

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