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  • Colton Pankiewicz

Series against Bentley hands hockey a point, Robert Morris stands ahead

By Colton Pankiewicz, Sports Editor

After being shut out at home 3–0 on Feb. 9, Canisius’s last-second goal on the second night of the two-game series awarded the Griffs their lone point of the weekend.

Bentley was the only team to score in the first game of the series and opened the scoring with just over four minutes remaining in the first period on the power play. The Falcons added a second tally less than three minutes later, coming off the stick of Ryan Mansfield. It was Mansfield who added the third and final goal early in the second frame, as the two teams finished the final 37 minutes and 58 seconds scoreless. Canisius was handed five powerplay opportunities but managed just five shots combined on the hand of attempts. Griffs’ goalie Ethan Robertson finished the game making 23 saves on 26 attempts with a .885 save percentage.

In the second game of the series, neither team was able to find the back of the net in the first 20 minutes. It took just 50 seconds in the second period to end the scoreless streak after freshman Trey Funk’s snapshot beat the Bentley goaltender. Bentley tied the game at one just before the midway point of the second period, and the score stayed at two for the remainder of the frame. Three minutes and 30 seconds into the third period, Falcons’ Matt Thompson gave his team their first lead of the game. Canisius trailed for almost the entire remainder of the period and seemed to be en route to back-to-back regulation losses, but Griffin Loughran found his fourth goal of the season with two-tenths of a second remaining in regulation. 

The Griffs were guaranteed at least a point with Loghran’s overtime-clinching goal, despite being outshot 37–23 in regulation. Neither team was able to grab the final two points in the extra period, so the two teams sent skaters out to decide the contest in the shootout. During the shootout, Canisius failed to bury a goal, while Bentley scored twice, in turn taking the final two points. 

The Griffs’ David Fessenden made 39 stops, good for a .951 save percentage in what was his first start since Jan. 19 where he left the game against Niagara due to injury. 

“It was great to see Fez [Fessenden] back,” said head coach Trevor Large. “What he’s going through isn’t minor, but to have him back in a game was a great boost for both him and us. I thought he was spectacular, and if we continue to get goaltending like that, I think it's a great start of a recipe [for success].”

After securing the Griffs a point with his game-tying goal, Loughran said, ”We win the faceoff, and Mel [David Melaragni] shot it, it hit off of me, and I found the puck and knew it had to get on net with time winding down.” 

Despite the clutch goal, coach Large says they’re still riding the “down” slope of the rollercoaster. He says the goal with two-tenths of a second remaining looks good when you look at the box score but that there weren’t any “smiling faces” in the locker room after the game because it still resulted in a loss. 

This upcoming series against Robert Morris carries significant weight on the overall standings for Canisius. With two regulation wins against the Colonels, the Griffs could move from their current spot of eighth up to sixth, but if Canisius loses both games against Robert Morris, they could move from that eight seed down to the last-placed seed, 11. 

The two teams will drop the puck on Feb. 16 and 17 before Canisius returns home for their final pair of games the following weekend against RIT.

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