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Late heroics send Griffs to OT with champs

blog by The Canisius Griffin  • 

The Canisius College hockey team continued to turn heads in Atlantic Hockey last Saturday, tying defending champion Air Force 3-3 at Cadet Ice Arena in Colorado Springs.

The Griffs had a slow start to the game offensively, getting out-shot by the Falcons 35-7 in the first two periods. Sophomore goalie Tony Capobianco made 33 saves over the first two periods in what some would consider a surprise start after senior Dan Morrison played superbly in a 3-1 win against RIT on Oct. 20.

“We like both of our goalies,” coach Dave Smith said. “They’ve both shown that they can win games and keep us in games.”

Capobianco proved that he was up to the task as he kept Canisius in the game, especially in the second period, when Air Force held a 25-4 shot advantage. The Falcons eventually broke through with 4:42 left in the second frame and then scored again 54 seconds later to take a 2-0 lead heading into the second intermission.

“The first period I thought was a really good road period,” Smith said. “The second period, we were dominated in every area.”

In the second intermission the team talked about being patient with and without the puck, and waiting for Air Force to make mistakes.

The Griffs got a spark at the 13:37 mark of the third period. With sophomore Ryan Bohrer in the penalty box for roughing, Canisius went to the penalty kill for the sixth time on the night. Forty seconds into the man-advantage for the Falcons, junior Torrey Lindsay stripped the puck from defenseman Alex Halloran and headed down the ice on a breakaway. Halloran took down Lindsay on his way to the net, but somehow the puck found its way behind Air Force goalie Stephen Caple and into the net for a Canisius goal.

With the deficit cut down to one goal, it seemed like the Griffs were in business to make a run to tie the game in the final 6:23 of the game. However, hope would seem to have faded less than two minutes later when Air Force scored again to reclaim its two-goal lead. The morale on the bench, however, still boosted by Lindsay’s goal, continued to stay positive.

With 1:47 to go in regulation, Smith pulled Capobianco for the extra attacker. The 6-on-5 advantage quickly paid off, as sophomore Kyle Gibbons continued his hot streak by scoring his team-leading third goal of the season to make it a 3-2 game. Shupe drew the primary assist on the goal and freshman Doug Jessey registered the other for his first collegiate point.

The Griffs had a minute and a half to score again, and that’s exactly what they did. With the Canisius net empty once again, freshman Doug Beck scored his first collegiate goal with just six seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime. Gibbons and Shupe were credited with assists on the goal. As a rookie, Beck said it was “unexpected” that he got to be the extra attacker, but not surprising because of the sheer number of newcomers on the team. With 12 freshmen, Smith almost had to put one of them out.

“[Beck] is a goal scorer,” Smith said. “He was in the right position at the right time and made a terrific play to score the goal.”

It was no easy task to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period against a team like Air Force, which made a trip to St. Paul, Minn. for the NCAA tournament last season.

“It was a big character test to fall down 3-1 and in order to come back from that was huge,” Shupe said. “It would have been easy to fold the tent there.”

Canisius nearly got the win in overtime as Shupe got the puck past Caple, but was beaten by the final horn. Capobianco made a career-high 45 saves in the tie.

The play of both goaltenders the past two games has been key for the Griffs starting off well in conference play.

“Having a young team, we are going to have our growing pains, especially at the start of the year,” senior captain Scott Moser said. “We know that they’re behind us and they have been awesome so far.”

Canisius (1-2-1, 1-0-1 AHA) returns to the ice tomorrow and Sunday to host Atlantic Hockey opponent Bentley, a gritty team that has given the Blue and Gold fits over the past few seasons.

“We have never played as well as I would like against them,” Smith said. “So I’m looking at it as a huge test for our young guys.”

Both games will take place at Buffalo State, with faceoffs at 6:05 p.m. and 2:05 p.m., respectively.

By Rich Lunghino
The Griffin

TAGGED: air force, canisius college, canisius griffins, college hockey, rich lunghino

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