The Griffs had a 1-0 lead on Friday against RIT ten minutes into the game. The shots were 7-1 in favor of Canisius and it looked like college hockey’s hottest team could do no wrong. The tides turning against the Griffs became the theme of the weekend.
A fluke spill behind the net from forward Austin Alger caused him to cough up the puck while Canisius was on the powerplay looking to extend their lead. Goaltender Jacob Barczewski, not suspecting the blip, was caught completely off guard when RIT’s Alden Dupuis snapped the puck over his left shoulder in the slot to tie the game.
Despite the small error, it still felt like Canisius had momentum to build on. The powerplay looked good on the first chance despite not scoring a goal, and the overall flow seemed to favor Canisius. That is, until RIT’s Regan Seiferling received a breakaway pass in stride coming out of the penalty box. Seiferling’s goal made it 2-1, and the Griffs who largely outplayed the Tigers to start the period, seemed to revert to scramble mode, a problem the team faced a lot last year.
Things got worse for the Griffs, as the 2-1 lead stretched to a 5-1 lead in very short order on tallies from Elijah Gonsalves, Chris McKay, and Jake Joffe.
Canisius would find the back of the net three more times before the final buzzer sounded, but the team would fall short. Freshman Ryan Miotto, junior Austin Alger, and senior Matt Hoover’s efforts were not enough to rally the team, who lost by a final of 7-4.
As disappointing as the Friday home game was, the Saturday road affair was completely heart-breaking. The Griffs again outplayed RIT for an extended period of time, only this time they kept momentum for most of the game. The team found themselves up 4-1 with only 10 minutes remaining in the game, and still did not manage to snag a point in the standings for their efforts.
The Griffs got off and running early on another goal from Ryan Miotto, only to allow RIT to tie it 14 seconds later on a goal from Ryan Kruper. Unlike Friday, the Griffs didn’t seem to chase the game when it was tied so quickly, and rather they continued playing their game and found success in the second period.
Canisius potted three goals in the second period to build that 4-1 cushion. Junior Matt Long gave the Griffs a 2-1 lead 5:06 into the second when sophomore Derek Hamelin’s point shot deflected off him and into the back of the net. Sophomore David Baskerville made it a 3-1 game by redirecting a point shot from junior Logan Gestro for his first goal of the season before Hoover made it a three-goal lead for the Griffs in the final minute of the second period.
The first ten minutes of the third included zero momentum changes and not much action at all. The final ten minutes RIT showed the college hockey world exactly why they’re so good at feeding off of energy. RIT captain Adam Brubacher took matters into his own hands by taking the puck from the point and driving to the net before feeding it to a wide open Gonsalves to cut the deficit to two goals.
The spark of momentum RIT created turned into a fiery pit in the matter of minutes. Shawn Cameron brought the Tigers to within a goal just 28 seconds later when his shot from the right boards found its way through traffic and past Barczewski, stunning the freshman goaltender. Gonsalves tied the game at four with his second goal of the period with 13:12 left in the third, cashing in on a rebound from the middle of the slot after Barczewski initially robbed Jake Hamacher.
With 4:50 left in regulation, Kobe Walker completed the comeback by finishing off a beautiful breakaway pass from Darren Brady to give RIT a 5-4 lead, a lead that would stand true till the final horn sounded.
“That’s as tough a loss as I can remember.” head coach Trevor Large told GoGriffs.com. “There’s learning from it, but that one obviously stings, being up by three and having an opponent come back. They got the momentum, they kept pushing. We obviously didn’t do enough in those moments to twist the momentum our way.”