Two late goals in a 31-second span helped the Canisius College hockey team rally past Mercyhurst, 4-2, on Saturday night at the Buffalo State Sports Arena. The Griffs are now 9-11-5 and 8-6-2 in Atlantic Hockey play, while the Lakers drop to 11-10-1 and 9-6-0 against league foes.
“It was a really tight hockey game tonight,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “It was a game where two of the top goaltenders in the league made big save after big save and we happened to get a couple by him late. After a slow start to the contest, getting that first goal on the power play helped shift the momentum our way and get two big points out of this game. Now we need to get back at it and try to do the same thing on Tuesday.”
Freshman Stephen Miller and sophomore Matthew Grazen netted the two late goals with under seven minutes remaining to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. The rally marked the first time since March 12, 2011 that Canisius won a game when trailing at the second intermission.
Freshman Ralph Cuddemi and senior Preston Shupe also netted goals in the winning effort.
Junior Tony Capobianco led the Canisius defense by making 29 stops on the night.
After a scoreless first period, the Lakers grabbed the lead 3:26 into the second frame when Matthew Zay knocked in a loose puck from in front of the net.
The Griffs tied the contest at one when Cuddemi netted his first collegiate goal with 3:25 remaining in the second. On the power play, freshman defender Chris Rumble fired a shot on goal and Cuddemi was there to clean up the rebound and put it into the net for the 1-1 game. Junior Kyle Gibbons also registered an assist on the goal.
The Lakers answered right back, however, scoring with just 1:56 remaining in the second. Ryan Misiak netted his eighth goal of the season on a rush to give Mercyhurst a 2-1 advantage after 40 minutes of action.
The Griffs would fight back with Miller swinging the momentum into Canisius’ favor. The rookie redirected a shot from sophomore defender Doug Jessey into the back of the net to knot the game at two. Sophomore Doug Beck also registered an assist on the game-tying tally with 6:46 left in regulation.
Canisius wasted no time grabbing the lead when Grazen tallied his sixth goal of the season. The sophomore tipped in a shot from junior defender Duncan McKellar for a 3-2 advantage with just 6:15 remaining. Gibbons posted his second assist of the night on the game-winning tally.
Capobianco and the Canisius defense took it from there, preventing the Lakers from netting an equalizing tally. The Griffs then sealed the contest when Shupe scored an empty-net goal with 24 ticks remaining on the clock. Senior Torrey Lindsay and sophomore Logan Roe both posted an assist on Shupe’s 10th tally of the season.
The Lakers finished the game with a slight edge in shots, 31-29. Canisius held the advantage on special teams, going 1-for-2 on the power play and killing all three Mercyhurst extra-man chances.
Max Strang recorded 25 saves in a losing effort for the Lakers.
The two schools wrap up the season series on Tuesday night, playing in Erie, Pa. Game time is slated to start at 7:05 p.m.
Game Notes: The last time Canisius won when trailing after two periods was against Holy Cross in the Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals. The Griffs were 0-28-1 in the last 29 contests when down after 40 minutes of action … Gibbons has recorded at least one point in a career-best six-straight games … Gibbons now has 18 points (10g, 8a) in his last 16 games after going scoreless in his first eight contests of the season … All three of Cuddemi’s points this season (1g, 2a) have come on the power play.