Ice Griffs battle adversity to gain a point at Air Force
By: Jon Skuza
Canisius hockey had an unsuccessful weekend as they were only able to pick up only one point against Atlantic Hockey opponent Air Force (5–9–2) with a 5–2 loss on Friday and a 3–3 tie on Saturday.
In the 5–2 loss on Friday, Canisius had a two-goal lead before Air Force stormed back with five unanswered to put the Griffs away.
“Ran out of players,” head coach Trevor Large said about the loss on Friday. “We were going into the weekend dealing with a lot of adversity outside the game of hockey in terms of injury and in illness that kinda went through the team, not COVID related.”
Canisius opened the scoring with a goal from junior Keaton Mastrodonato late in the first period. Sophomore Connor Zilisch scored his first collegiate goal to extend the Griffs lead to two early in the second period. Unfortunately for the Griffs, the wheels fell off the wagon from that point on.
Air Force started their comeback at the 13:09 mark of the second period, and it was all Falcons from there on out. Air Force added two more goals late in the second period to take a 3–2 lead heading into the third. The Falcons added two more goals in the third period to put the Griffs away.
Jacob Barczewski made 25 saves in the game before being replaced by John Hawthorne. Hawthorne recorded 10 saves in his relief appearance.
On Saturday, Canisius picked up their only point in the series with a 3–3 tie.
Air Force jumped out to a lead early in the first period. Canisius didn’t answer until junior defensemen David Melaragni tied the game up at the nine-minute mark of the second period.
The Falcons scored 23 seconds later, but graduate student Alex Ambrosio tied the game up again for Canisius three minutes after the Falcons regained their lead. Air Force struck quickly after Canisius tied it yet again by scoring a goal a minute later to take a 3–2 lead. Graduate student Austin Alger tied the game up once again for Canisius late in the third period to force overtime between the two teams. Nobody could find the back of the net in overtime for either side, so both teams gained a point in the standings.
With one point still on the line, Air Force was able to hold off Canisius in the shootout to take five of six possible points this weekend. Canisius left Colorado with only one point, but considering the circumstances, it could’ve been worse for the Griffs.
Canisius’s powerplay struggled all weekend going 0/11 during the series.
“We weren’t able to get it around the net,” Large stated about the power play. “I credited Air Force’s penalty kill. I thought they were very good. They made us do a lot to get anything around the net. We weren’t able to get second chance opportunities, good screens, or tips.”
This was Canisius’s first series all season where they did not receive at least a split. Canisius will look to bounce back with a home-and-home Battle of the Bridge series against rival Niagara. The series will begin on Dec. 9 at Lecom HarborCenter. The series finale will be the next night Dec. 10 at Dwyer Arena in Lewiston.