By: Jon Skuza
Canisius Griffs hockey finished the season by being swept by Mercyhurst (12–18–4) with a 3–0 loss on Friday and a 3–1 loss on Saturday.
In game one, Mercyhurst came to Harborcenter and ruined Canisius’s senior night by shutting them out. Canisius (16–14–3) had no answer for Mercyhurst’s strong defense in Friday’s contest. Following a scoreless first that didn’t see much action, Mercyhurst finally broke through first and got on the board just past the halfway point of the second period when Jonathan Bendorf put home a Dusty Geregach's backdoor feed.
Mercyhurst doubled their lead at the halfway point in the third period with a powerplay goal by Cade Townend who wristed one past Canisius’s goalie Jacob Barczewski. Canisius had a few chances in the third, but Kyle McClellan was perfect and saved all 32 Griff shots.
Geoff Kitt added the empty-net sealer for Mercyhurst with just over a minute left in the third period. It was a disappointing loss for the Griffs as they weren't able to get a win for the 10 seniors and graduate students they honored before the game.
“The better team won,” head coach Trevor Large said. “Mercyhurst was really good tonight. It was a good hockey game. A little bit of a chess match, maybe, at times: system versus system. It was kind of a ‘first error was going to lead to the first goal,’ and we made an error on a forecheck and didn't have our sticks in good positions, and they ended up getting a goal out of it. And then they got a quick one on the powerplay. But we need to be better — we will be better.”
In game two, Canisius was not much better, as Mercyhurst completed the sweep at home as the Griffs fell 3–1 on Saturday. Both Barczewski and McClellan got the starts for the second night, and McClellan had another solid night for the Lakers.
McClellan was again near perfect, stopping 22 of 23 Canisius shots and helping Mercyhurst complete the sweep.
Marko Reifenberger opened the scoring for the Lakers at the 16:29 mark of the first period. Sophomore Max Kouznetsov answered back with the lone Giffs goal on the powerplay just over three minutes into the second period.
After that, it was all Mercyhurst. Later on in the second period, Rylee St. Onge put the Lakers back in front 2–1 after he put home a rebound. Dante Sheriff, just 67 seconds into the third period, added the insurance goal after he capitalized on a breakaway chance.
“Tonight was another hard-fought hockey game,” head coach Trevor Large told GoGriffs.com. “It was definitely an even game. I really liked our powerplay goal. Obviously, we have to score more. It's hard to win with one goal. Five-on-five we need to be better. But tonight was a really good hockey game in preparation of the playoffs coming. We can shut the door on the regular season.”
Canisius secured the second seed in the Atlantic Hockey Conference tournament. They have received a bye for this upcoming weekend and the team will return to action at the Harborcenter the weekend of March 11.