The Canisius College hockey team put together one its best defensive efforts of the season to secure a 2-0 victory over visiting Bentley on Saturday night at HARBORCENTER. The Griffs extended their unbeaten run to five games – the team’s longest in the regular season in more than five years – and improves to 10-8-6 on the season and 9-4-5 in Atlantic Hockey play. The Falcons drop to 10-10-3 overall and 8-6-3 versus league foes.
“Tonight, our effort and commitment in all three zones was noticeable,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “We found an early goal and connected late on a key power play to seal the win. It was a total team effort tonight that got us a big two points.”
Senior Mitch McCrank (Haileybury, Ontario) led the Canisius offense with two points on a goal and an assist, while sophomore Shane Conacher (Burlington, Ontario) also added a tally.
Senior Keegan Asmundson (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) anchored the strong defensive effort, recording 18 saves to register his first shutout of the season.
Overall, the Canisius defense limited Bentley’s high-scoring attack to just 18 shots on net, six fewer than its previous low against a conference opponent this season.
McCrank gave the Griffs the early advantage with his fifth tally of the season 9:17 into the game. From behind the net, senior Tyler Wiseman (Burlington, Ontario) sent the puck in front with senior Cody Freeman (Toronto, Ontario) getting a piece right in front. McCrank then wound up for a one-timer right inside the left face-off circle and fired the puck into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.
The one goal proved to be more than enough for the Canisius defense. The Falcons entered the weekend averaging 3.00 goals per game and owned the nation’s third-best power-play unit. However, the Griffs successfully killed all three Bentley power play, including two in the third period, and allowed only two shots by the Falcons in six minutes of extra-man play.
Canisius then sealed the victory when Conacher scored on the team’s first power play of the night. From the corner, McCrank found Conacher open in the opposite face-off circle and the sophomore ripped a wrist shot into the netting for his seventh tally of the season. Junior Ralph Cuddemi (Concord, Ontario) also registered an assist on the goal to give Canisius a 2-0 lead with just 4:57 remaining.
The Griffs finished the game with a 33-18 advantage in shots, going 1-for-2 on the power play.
Jayson Argue recorded 31 saves for the Falcons in defeat.
Canisius looks to continue its winning ways next week with a series against local rival Niagara. The Battle of the Bridge rivals are set to meet in Lewiston on Thursday and Saturday at 7:05 p.m.
Game Notes: The five-game unbeaten run is the longest in the regular season for the Griffs since a six-game run from Nov. 6 to Nov. 21, 2009 … The shutout was the second for Asmundson during his career, recording his first on Jan. 4, 2014 against Holy Cross … Bentley’s previous low for shots against a conference opponent was 24 versus Army (Nov. 28) and Air Force (Dec. 6) … Canisius has held its opponent under 20 shots three times in the last eight conference games, allowing an average of 24.5 shots per game during that span.