Canisius players and coaches had something to prove after last weekend’s heartbreaker against RIT. The Griffs came out with a lot of energy on Friday against the third best team in the conference in Army, and the team played well to their strengths. The first period of Friday’s game was very tight, with no real scoring chances and zero goals to show for it.
Canisius got things rolling offensively in the second period when Keaton Mastrodonato passed the puck on a three-on-one scoring chance and the puck bounced off an Army skate behind goaltender Trevin Kozlowski.
Army’s Brendan Soucie tied the game at one a piece on the next shift, beating Griffs netminder Jacob Barczewski with a wrist shot to the glove side for a power-play goal.
After some more back and forth action to end the second period, Canisius regained a one goal lead when they capitalized themselves on a powerplay opportunity. The captain Matt Hoover finished off a tic-tac-toe passing sequence for his 11th goal of the season.
Trailing 2-1 late in the third, Army tied the game and forced overtime in the final minute of regulation when Michael Wilson deflected a point shot from Alex Wilkinson into the back of the Canisius net after the Black Knights had pulled Kozlowski for the extra attacker.
With less than a minute remaining in the first overtime, and the game looking like both squads would gain at least one point each, the Griffs MVP came through for a huge three points. Senior forward Nick Hutchison scored with 26 seconds remaining in the first overtime to lift Canisius to a 3-2 victory over Army.
Hutchison won the game by elevating a shot inside the left post and by the blocker of Kozlowski, and he did so immediately after receiving a gorgeous pass in the middle from sophomore Lee Lapid.
In the Saturday affair between Canisius and Army, things fared differently for both sides. Army used two goals from Colin Bilek, and smothered Canisius defensively to the tune of only 16 shots allowed in a 4-2 victory.
Many players and coaches felt the first period the team played was among the best periods played this season by the team, however the result of the hard work was a 0-0 game after one period. From the beginning of the second period and on, Army took over the game entirely.
Bilek opened the scoring with a power-play goal two minutes into the second period, beating Canisius goaltender Jacob Barczewski with a wrist shot from the middle of the slot. Bilek would strike again for the Black Knights on the next shift, one-timing a puck past Barczewski from the right faceoff circle.
Army’s Mason Kruger stretched the Army cushion to 3-0 at the 3:31 mark of the third period when his shot from the left point found its way through traffic and into the upper right-hand corner of the net. An odd goal for Army, but it ended up as the game winner.
Keaton Mastrodonato and Matt Long would score for the Griffs in the third period after that, but it was too little too late in the 4-2 loss.
“There’s a sense of never satisfied with [this team],” assistant coach Taylor Nelson said. “We take things game by game, period by period, shift by shift. It’s part of our focus, it’s what the team has been doing lately.”
“This league is tough. Every team can compete and battle hard every single night” Nelson said. “We have to be able to bring it every night, especially if we want to beat Air Force.”