Hockey prepares for rivalry series against Niagara
By: Jay Ashdown
While the Griffs were only able to muster up one point against Air Force due to a non-COVID-19–related illness ailing the team, there’s still a lot to be hopeful for this weekend against Niagara.
Niagara enters this weekend with a poor 3–9–2 record out of 14 games this season, while the Griffs enter with a record of 8–7–2. While the Griffs enter with a more pristine record on the year, the Purple Eagles do possess a .500 record in conference play, while the Griffs have a .550 record in conference play.
Niagara’s record shouldn’t blow anyone away, but the Purple Eagles are a lot better than their record suggests, and with it being a rivalry series, anything can happen. Niagara is averaging two goals per game while yielding 3.6 goals per game. While this may come off as a very bad stat for Niagara — and it admittedly isn’t a great one — it is important to realize the significant difference comes from their poor non-conference play.
Between Chad Veltri and freshman Jake Sibell, the two have combined for a save percentage of .887% and a goals against average of 3.38. The Griffs will yet again have an advantage in net, but they’ll need offense to flow in order to take advantage.
If the Griffs want to sweep their rival, they have to be better on the powerplay. Canisius is converting at a 20.9% clip on the season with the man advantage, but an 0–11 weekend at Air Force shows that this unit still has more work to do in order to be an elite and consistent unit.
Keaton Mastrodonato is by far the Blue and Gold’s best offensive player, with a fantastic 19 points in 17 games. Max Kouznetsov and Austin Alger tie for second offensively for the Griffs with 14 points in 17 games.
The Purple and White are led offensively by Ryan Naumovski, with 10 points in 13 games. Albin Nilsson ranks second on the Purple Eagles with nine points in 13 games. There are three Niagara skaters who are tied for 3rd on the team in scoring, but they all have only six points in 13 games.
The Griffs-Purple Eagles series will be a home-and-home series with the Griffs hosting Niagara Thursday night and Niagara hosting Canisius the next night at the Dwyer Arena.