The Canisius College hockey team lost the 2014 Atlantic Hockey Championship on Saturday night to Robert Morris, 7-4. One season after winning their first title in the program’s history, the Griffs fell one step short in repeating and finish the 2013-14 season with a 17-21-3 record.
“While the loss stings, I’m proud of our effort tonight but we just came up a little short against a strong Robert Morris team,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “The contributions and efforts of our seven-member senior class will leave a lasting impression with this program – leading this team to two Atlantic Hockey title games and a championship a season ago. This group helped move our program forward for the future and they will be missed but not forgotten.”
Robert Morris’ Cody Wydo was named Tournament MVP after netting a hat trick to go along with one assist.
Junior defender Doug Jessey (Langdon, Alberta) and sophomore defender Chris Rumble (Seattle, Wash.) led the Griffs with three points in the loss, scoring one goal and adding two assists. The duo along with sophomore forward Ralph Cuddemi (Concord, Ontario) were each named to the Atlantic Hockey All-Tournament Team.
Junior Mitch McCrank (Haileybury, Ontario) and freshman Shane Conacher (Burlington, Ontario) also scored for the Griffs in the defeat.
After a scoreless first period, the Colonials struck early in the second frame when Wydo scored just 26 seconds in. Wydo forced a turnover in the Canisius zone and finished his chance for the 1-0 advantage.
The Griffs answered back with Jessey’s eighth goal of the season. The junior sent a blast into the net from the blue line at the6:08 mark to pull Canisius even at one. Rumble and junior Doug Beck (Plymouth, Mich.) both registered assists on the tally.
Wydo, however, would add his second goal of the game with 2:26 remaining in the second stanza. Off a rush, Wydo made a move to get past a Canisius defender and then buried his opportunity from close range for the 2-1 advantage through 40 minutes of action.
The third period featured a number of shifts of momentum and eight goals between the two teams after the schools combined for just three tallies in the first 40 minutes of action. Robert Morris would answer every Canisius goal in less than a minute to earn its first conference title.
Conacher opened the scoring in the third for Canisius with his sixth goal of the season. The rookie fired a shot in from the right face-off circle off passes from McCrank and Jessey to tie the game just 74 seconds into the period.
Robert Morris, however, would quickly answer back when Greg Gibson scored just 15 seconds later for the 3-2 advantage. The Griffs were then successful in killing off a five-minute major penalty only to see Matt Cope score just four seconds after it expired for the 4-2 lead with 12:49 remaining.
McCrank responded for the Griffs to bring the team back within one with 9:33 left in regulation. On a rush, Cuddemi went around the net and then found his linemate open in front. McCrank hammered the puck in for his ninth goal of the season and the 4-3 score. Rumble also registered an assist on the goal.
The one-goal game would be short-lived, however, as David Friedmann scored end-to-end for the 5-3 advantage just 37 seconds later
Rumble would once again bring Canisius back within one with his fifth goal of the season with 7:25 remaining in regulation. On the power play, the sophomore defender fired a shot in from the blue line with assists going to Jessey and senior Kyle Gibbons (Westlake, Ohio) for the 5-4 score.
The Colonials, though, would answer back just like they did every time in the third period. Gibson would score his second goal of the night just 29 seconds later and Wydo would then seal the victory with his third goal with 1:54 remaining in regulation for the 7-4 final score.
Robert Morris finished the game with a 33-31 advantage in shots. Canisius went 1-for-6 with the extra-man advantage, while the Colonials were scoreless in four power-play chances.
Game Notes: Canisius was attempting to become just the second team in Atlantic Hockey history to repeat as champion … The Griffs’ five third-period goals allowed matched the total surrendered during their previous 12 Atlantic Hockey Tournament games the last two seasons … The loss marked the final game for seven Canisius seniors – forwards Gibbons, Ryan Bohrer, Taylor Law and Patrick Sullivan, defenders Ben Danford and Duncan McKellar and goaltender Tony Capobianco … The 2013 Atlantic Hockey Championship MVP, Gibbons finishes his career ranked fourth in school history with 131 career points and second with 57 career goals … Danford appeared in more games than any other player in school history (158), never missing a single contest in his career … He also holds the program’s record for assists by a defender (74) and ranks second among blueliners with 84 points … In addition to four single-season records last season, Capobianco finished with the school’s all-time records in saves (3,061), shutouts (eight), goals against average (2.71) and save percentage (.920) … With his 26 saves in the championship game, Capobianco broke his own Atlantic Hockey Tournament record with 249 stops during the seven games of the tournament (topping the mark he set last year with 235).