Erie, Pa. – The Canisius College hockey team earned a 4-2 victory at Mercyhurst on Saturday night to jump into second place in the Atlantic Hockey standings. The Griffs are now 14-10-7 on the season and 13-6-6 against league foes, while the Lakers drop to 16-11-4 and 14-8-3 in Atlantic Hockey play.
“That was our most passionate game that we’ve played in awhile,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “It was needed against a very good team in its building and we’ll look for the same tomorrow back in Buffalo.”
Senior Mitch McCrank (Haileybury, Ontario) matched a career high with three points, scoring a goal to go along with two assists. Juniors Ralph Cuddemi (Concord, Ontario) and Chris Rumble (Seattle, Wash.) and sophomore Shane Conacher (Burlington, Ontario) each added a goal for Canisius.
Senior Keegan Asmundson (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) recorded 35 saves in net to earn the victory for the Griffs.
Canisius struck first in the contest thanks to Conacher’s 10th goal of the season. Cuddemi held the possession along the boards and then found his linemate open on the far side. Conacher then finished the early opportunity 7:34 into the contest with senior captain Doug Jessey (Langdon, Alberta) also registering an assist on the tally for the 1-0 lead.
Mercyhurst would answer back shortly later when Nardo Nagtzaam finished a rush, squaring the game at one with 9:10 remaining in the first.
Canisius, however, would swing the game in their favor with two goals 88 seconds apart in the second period. Rumble gave the Griffs the lead for good with his sixth tally of the season, connecting on the power play. Rumble and McCrank hooked up on a give-and-go at the point and McCrank found Rumble open on the back door the 2-1 lead. Conacher also added an assist on the extra-man tally 4:41 into the period.
The Griffs quickly extended their advantage just 88 seconds later when McCrank netted his eighth of the season. Canisius took advantage of a Mercyhurst turnover in the neutral zone and on the abbreviated rush, senior Tyler Wiseman (Burlington, Ontario) found McCrank open on the back door for the 3-1 lead with 13:51 remaining in the second.
The Lakers pulled one back early in the third period when Bryan Sienerth scored off an offensive zone faceoff just 41 seconds into frame to make the score 3-2.
The Canisius defense, however, backstopped by Asmundson, held on for the key Atlantic Hockey victory. Asmundson stopped the final 14 shots on target and the Griffs sealed the victory when Cuddemi scored an empty-net goal with 24.5 seconds remaining – assists to senior Cody Freeman (Toronto, Ontario) and McCrank.
Mercyhurst finished the game with a 37-27 advantage in shots. Canisius converted 1-of-2 power plays, while killing the only extra-man chance for the Lakers.
The schools wrap up the season series tomorrow night in Buffalo. The Griffs’ Senior Night contest is slated to begin at 7:35 p.m. at HARBORCENTER. Canisius needs just one more victory in the team’s final three games to clinch home ice for the Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals.
Game Notes: McCrank also registered three points with a hat trick against Bentley in the Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals on March 16, 2014 … Conacher has now scored a goal in a career-best three-straight games … Cuddemi raised his goal total to 19 and is now just one goal shy of becoming the fifth player in program history to score 20 in a single season … Cuddemi has nine goals in 11 career games against Mercyhurst … Canisius has allowed two or fewer goals in 11 of its last 12 games … Canisius is now 6-1-1 in the last eight games against Mercyhurst, while the Lakers are 32-8-8 against the rest of the league … The Griffs have won their last three games at the Mercyhurst Ice Center.