The Canisius College hockey team clinched home ice for the Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals with a 3-1 victory on Senior Night against Mercyhurst at HARBORCENTER. The second-place Griffs, who will host the quarterfinals for the first time since 2005, improve to 15-10-7 on the season and 14-6-6 in Atlantic Hockey play, while the Lakers drop to 16-12-4 and 14-9-3 against league foes.
“It was a big win on Senior Night with all 10 seniors in the lineup and contributing,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “It’s memorable to get a sweep against a very good Mercyhurst team and to clinch home ice. Our seniors carried us tonight and have been carrying us all season, so it was nice to be able to have such a big win on their night.”
Junior Ralph Cuddemi (Concord, Ontario) netted two goals on the night to lead the Griffs, raising his season total to 21 tallies. He is the fifth Griff in the program’s Division I history to record 20 goals in a single season and his 21 tallies are now just two shy of the record.
Senior Mitch McCrank (Haileybury, Ontario) also scored for the Griffs, while senior Keegan Asmundson (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) stopped 26 shots in net to earn his 10th win of the season.
Mercyhurst struck first in the contest only to see the Griff immediately respond. Jack Riley gave the Lakers the lead when he gathered a loose puck off a turnover in the neutral zone, skated into the zone with a 2-on-1 advantage and finished himself for 1-0 lead 4:46 into the game.
Cuddemi and the Griffs, however, answered right back with a power-play tally just 38 seconds later. Sophomore Shane Conacher (Burlington, Ontario) found his linemate open in the slot and Cuddemi slipped the puck into the back of the net to square the contest at one 5:24 into the game. Junior Chris Rumble (Seattle, Wash.) also assisted on Cuddemi’s 20th goal of the season.
The Griffs then grabbed the lead for good just 9:18 into the contest thanks to McCrank’s ninth tally of the season. On a rush, senior Matthew Grazen (Clarence, N.Y.) centered the puck and McCrank redirected it past the Mercyhurst netminder for the 2-1 lead. Senior Tyler Wiseman (Burlington, Ontario) added an assist on what proved to be the game-winning goal.
The 2-1 score held into third period when Cuddemi sealed the victory with his 22nd tally of the season and eighth power-play goal. On a rush, senior Cody Freeman (Toronto, Ontario) fed the puck to Conacher in the slot. The sophomore then made an extra pass to Cuddemi in the far face-off circle and the junior finished his chance with the open net with 13:51 remaining in the game.
The three goals were more than enough for the league’s top-ranked defense and Asmundson as Canisius clinched home ice in the quarterfinals for the first time in 10 years with two games remaining.
The Griffs finished the game with a 33-27 advantage in shots on the night. Canisius also won the special teams battle, going 2-for-4 on the power play and killing the only two Mercyhurst extra-man chances.
Canisius closes out the regular season next weekend with a pair of games at Air Force. The schools are set to begin the series on Friday with a 9:05 p.m. ET puck drop.
Game Notes: Canisius continued its dominance of Mercyhurst. The Griffs are now 7-1-1 in their last nine games versus the Lakers, while Mercyhurst is 32-8-8 against the rest of the league … Cuddemi now has 11 goals in 12 career games versus the Lakers … The junior is tied for third in the program’s history with his 21 tallies and is two goals shy of the record of 23, held by Cory Conacher (2010-11) … Cuddemi now ranks second nationally in goals and third in power-play tallies … Conacher raised his season total to 26 assists – tied for the most in school history among underclassmen (Chris Duggan in 1998-99 and Josh Heidinger in 2006-07) … Conacher’s 26 helpers are also tied for sixth in the country … Asmundson recorded his 1,000th career save and now has 1,025 in his career … Canisius has allowed only 20 goals in their last 13 games and only three goals or less in five of the last six series.