The Canisius College hockey team announced the addition of five players to the Golden Griffin program for the 2013-14 campaign, announced by head coach Dave Smith on Monday.
Forwards Shane Conacher (Burlington, Ontario), Jack Hidi (Toronto, Ontario)and Josh Kielich (Orchard Park, N.Y.) and defenders Geoff Fortman (Crystal Lake, Ill.) and Brandon Russo (Westport, N.Y.) join 23 returning student-athletes from the Griffs’ Atlantic Hockey Championship squad to form the 2013-14 team.
“The five newcomers are all very talented and each bring different qualities to our team,” Smith said. “We lost a lot from our graduating seniors but teams are aware of our capabilities and the talent we have returning. Adding to a roster that already features great chemistry and work ethic, I’m excited to see their skills and competiveness and how they make our team better through their individual efforts.”
Conacher led the St. Michael’s Buzzers to the OJHL Championship in 2013, earning the Brett Ladds Trophy as the league’s playoff MVP. The Burlington, Ontario native totaled 35 points (14g, 21a) during the Buzzers’ 23-game postseason run and accumulated 57 points (28g, 29a) in 51 contests during the regular season. Conacher, who is the brother of the Griffs’ all-time leading scorer and current member of the Ottawa Senators Cory Conacher, also played for Team Canada East at the 2012 World Junior A Challenge, netting three goals in five games.
Hidi served as team captain at Upper Canada College, leading the high school in scoring during his senior campaign with 42 points, 24 goals and 18 assists in 36 games. Selected to the CISAA All-Star Team in both of his seasons with the Blues, Hidi totaled 83 points, 45 goals and 38 assists during his two-year tenure.
A native of Orchard Park, N.Y., Kielich played two seasons for the Buffalo Jr. Sabres of the OJHL. He recorded 41 points, 11 goals and 30 assists during the 2012-13 campaign and totaled 81 points, 31 goals and 50 assists in his two-year tenure. Kielich was also a two-time selection to the Central Canada Cup All-Star Game.
Fortman helped lead the Amarillo Bulls to the NAHL Championship last season. He was named the team’s Best Defensive Defenseman during the campaign, recording 28 points, seven goals, 21 assists and a plus/minus rating of +39. The defender finished the season ranked fifth in the league with his +39 rating and was named to the 2012 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament.
A transfer from the Penn State club team, Russo earned second-team ACHA All-America accolades and first-team All-Southeast Region honors during the 2012-13 campaign. The defenseman registered 30 points in 27 games last season and 44 points during his two-year stay. Before arriving at Penn State, Russo played one year in the USHL with the Indiana Ice and Youngstown Phantoms, recording 24 points, two goals and 22 assists.
The Griffs are coming off their most successful season in school history. Canisius won the program’s first Atlantic Hockey Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history, while also finishing the season ranked 19th in the final USCHO.com national poll, the highest placement in the program’s history.