Hockey settles for split against Niagara

Senior Austin Alger tallied the game-winning goal and an assist in the Ice Griffs' 5-1 win over Niagara last Friday. (Aidan Joly/The Griffin)

Canisius hockey ended their regular season with a weekend series split with rival Niagara, with a win coming on Friday and a loss coming on Saturday on senior night. 

On Friday, Canisius exploded for five goals in the third period to beat the Purple Eagles 5–1 on their senior night. The Griffs got solid contributions from many players in the third en route to the win. Jami Virtanen got the tying goal in the middle of the third period, and the Griffs ran away with it from that point on getting goals from Logan Gestro, Austin Alger, David Melaragni and Mitchell Martan. Sophomore goalie, Jacob Barczewski, made 14 saves.

“Tonight’s result is what we were going after. It was an exciting third period for those people that were watching and for us on the bench as well with six goals scored,” head coach Trevor Large said after the win. “It was a tough game; it was a difficult game. Niagara did a good job eliminating a lot of our entries and opportunities through the first two periods. We were trying to find our game and then Niagara scores early in the third. I was happy with our response. We stayed with our game plan.” 

On Saturday, Canisius was blanked on senior night 4–0 by Niagara. This was the first game all season that Canisius was shut out and this was also their first home loss of the year. 

“Obviously a disappointing effort from us tonight. We got out-competed for most of the game. Our special teams were disappointing,” head coach Trevor Large said about the loss on Saturday. “We didn’t have enough players on our roster competing to have a good night. Whenever you do that in this conference, teams are going to beat you, whether they’re short-handed or not. That was the outcome for tonight. So, we have to let this sting and bring it into the playoffs.”

Leading the Purple Eagles in scoring was sophomore Jason Pineo with two goals on the night. Also scoring for Niagara was fellow sophomore Brandon Stanley and junior Ryan Cox. 

All three goalies played for Canisius on Saturday. Junior Matt Ladd started the game and played the whole first period. Ladd gave up two goals in the one period he played, and was pulled due to a minor injury. Sophomore Jacob Barczewski took over in relief and started the second period in net for Canisius. Barczewski played the whole second period and most of the third period. With 1:25 left in the third period, in a heartfelt moment on senior night, senior goalie Tucker Weppner replaced Barczewski in net and finished out the game in goal for Canisius. 

“I love the seven of them. They’re great human beings. I was glad to reward Tucker with a little bit of time,” head coach Trevor Large said about the senior class. “Him and I had a great conversation, it was all meant to be positive to get him in there. I was glad he was able to make a couple of saves because it’s things you never forget.”

Canisius has lost three of their last four games and only getting four points out of those games. With playoffs around the corner, Canisius will have to pick up their game as they get ready to take on RIT in the playoffs. 

After the results of this weekend, Canisius captured the second seed in the west division of the Atlantic Hockey Conference, meaning they will play rival RIT in a three-game series at LECOM HarborCenter starting March 12.

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