Power play lifts Ice Griffs to sweep of RIT
By: Jon Skuza
The Ice Griffs rode stellar play from their special teams units as well as two great performances from goaltender Jacob Barczewski to sweep rival RIT this past weekend.
Four power-play goals helped Canisius hockey defeat RIT (5–5–2) 5–2 on Friday.
“Tonight was obviously a power-play game,” head coach Trevor Large said about the win. “You look at the box score and you see six power-play goals combined and we get the shorthand empty netter to seal the deal, but the power play was spectacular tonight — credit to them.”
Sophomore Jackson Decker opened the scoring for Canisius with his first of two goals on the night just over five minutes in the period. Elijah Gonsalves and Jake Hamacher would score a pair of RIT power-play goals to give them a 2–1 lead at the end of the first period.
Senior Lee Lapid tied the game for Canisius just 19 seconds into the second period. Sophomore Max Kouznetsov potted the third power-play goal to give Canisius the lead just past the ninth-minute mark in the second period.
Decker banged home his second power-play goal of the night just a 1:15 into the third period to extend Canisius’s lead to two. Junior Keaton Mastrodonato put in a shorthanded empty-net goal towards the end of the third to seal the 5–2 victory for Canisius.
Canisius finished the game 4–6 on the power play, an unbelievable performance to get the win.
“Our power play starts with puck support, movement and being predictable for each other,” coach Large said about the power play. “Every power play has a system, but our players are the reason why our power play works. They were predictable for each other tonight. We got the puck around the net.”
Junior goaltender Jacob Barczewski had another great night in net, yielding only two goals on 26 shots on net.
“I thought the guys in front of me played really well tonight,” Barczewski said about his defense's performance. “They cleaned up a lot of things coming into this series, defensively. There were some blocks there at the end. I just love how they all came together there at the end and helped me out.”
The Griffs completed the sweep behind a strong third period to win 4–1 on Saturday.
Canisius (6–4–1) started off the game with a delay of game penalty that came during warmups. Despite this, the first period stayed scoreless for the two rivals. Canisius opened up the scoring in the second period after graduate student Jake Witkowski set up Ryan Mitto with a shorthanded goal on a two-on-one rush.
The third period brought upon more goals for Canisius. Just past the halfway point of the third graduate student, Austin Alger fired a power-play goal to extend Canisius’s lead to two. Two minutes later, the captain, J.D. Pogue, scored the first even-strength goal of the series to put the Golden Griffins up by three.
Senior Lee Lapid potted a goal late in the game to put Canisius up 4–0. After a late holding penalty by graduate student Alex Ambrosio, RIT was able to score a power-play goal with 21 seconds left in the game.
“We played together in the third. In that third, you're up 1–0,” head coach Trevor Large said. “You know and expect that the opponent is going to push. You don't want to take penalties. You're trying to remain extremely disciplined in how you play. I really liked our team when it was 3–0, we did not give RIT anything.”
Junior goaltender Jacob Barczewski had another fantastic game for Canisius with a 28-save game against RIT Saturday.
His efforts this weekend earned him Atlantic Hockey Goaltender of the Week for the second straight week. He recorded 52 saves in the weekend series and posted a 1.50 goals-against average along with a .945 save percentage.
Canisius’s next series is a home-and-home series on Nov. 19 and 20 against Atlantic Hockey opponent Mercyhurst. Friday’s game will be played at the Mercyhurst Ice Center in Erie, Pa. Saturday’s matchup will be at LECOM Harborcenter.