The Canisius Golden Griffins hockey team look to extend their current four game winning streak this weekend in their two-game set against the Air Force Falcons. This series will see two teams trending in completely opposite directions.
Air Force returns to the ice after a sixteen day layoff as their two series against Holy Cross and RIT were postponed due to Atlantic Hockey COVID protocols. The Falcons may have needed that break, since injuries have plagued them this season and have been a key contributor to their teams poor performance. The Falcons come into the series with a record of 1-9-1, with their only win coming against 4-10 Bentley.
In net, Air Force is led by junior Alex Schilling, who has had a rough season to say the least. Schilling has made eight starts this season for the Falcons and has a save percentage of .847 and a goals against average of 4.71. The other option for Air Force in net is senior Zach LaRocque who has a save percentage of .903 and a goals against average of 2.47. This weekend will include senior night for Air Force, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see LaRocque get at least one start for the Falcons.
The Griffs are trending in the opposite direction having many series cancelled earlier in the season but playing many games recently, and seeing a lot of success on the ice. The Griffs are riding high on a four game winning streak, and are currently unbeaten at home. Despite the home success the team is only 3-2 on the road, which isn’t bad by any means but could give the Falcons the edge they need to compete with Atlantic Hockey’s second ranked team.
One of the key components for the Griffs’ success has been the goaltending they have gotten from both sophomore Jake Barczewski and junior Matt Ladd. The two have split time pretty evenly, and this has allowed both of them to stay fresh and on top of their games. When either guy hasn’t been on the absolute top of their game, the Griffs have found ways to get timely goals either on the power play or at even strength.
Special teams has also been a key for the Griffs success this season, as their powerplay is converting at a 23.3% clip while the penalty kill has shut down their opposition this season and is killing penalties at a 90.3% clip. Goaltending has been a driving force behind the excellent penalty kill, but the powerplay has been driven by star sophomore forward Keaton Mastrodonato and stud junior Mitchell Martan. Mastrodonato has seven goals and eleven points in just nine games for the Griffs, while Martan has three goals and ten points in just nine games as well. The chemistry for these two have helped the Griffs establish one of the best power plays and top lines in the Atlantic Hockey Conference.
The Atlantic Hockey postseason tournament starts on March 5. The Griffs have this two-game set against Air Force and another two game set against Niagara to prepare for postseason hockey. With only four games left on the schedule, the Griffs are looking to pick up extra points to help their position in the standings to give themselves more favorable matchups by the time the playoffs begin. As of right now, the Griffs are in second place in the Atlantic Hockey conference only behind AIC.