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Golden Griffins battle Air Force to 3-3 tie

The Griffs used a last-minute comeback to tie the Falcons.

blog by Ben Kirst  • 

It was an upset weekend in the Atlantic Hockey conference, and our hometown boys almost got a piece of the action.

The perennially awful American International squad beat Sacred Heart, 7-4, on Friday.  Mercyhurst clipped defending conference champ RIT, 2-1.  Niagara and Mercyhurst beat ranked Colgate and Cornell teams on Saturday, respectively.

And—while our friends the Sabres were busy choking away a last-minute lead in Buffalo on Saturday night—the scrappy Canisius College hockey team (1-2-1 overall, 1-0-1 Atlantic Hockey) managed to score two extra-attacker goals in the final 1:34 of regulation, Florida-ing conference rival Air Force (3-2-2, 2-0-1) for a 3-3 draw at the USAF Academy in Colorado. 

“The key to the game tonight was that during a really tough second period for us, our team—led by goaltender Tony Capobianco—kept us within two goals,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “We rebounded nicely with character and being on the same page as a team to get a tie. We had a little puck luck as well, but we showed a lot of fight after a rough period.”

Sophomore Kyle Gibbons and freshman Doug Beck each netted extra-attacker goals to help lead the Griffs to the draw. Gibbons started the comeback with 1:34 on the clock by netting his team-leading third goal of the season and Beck knotted the game with just six seconds remaining in regulation with his first collegiate goal.

Junior Torrey Lindsay added the third tally for the Griffs in the tie.  Capobianco recorded a career-high 45 saves.

The Falcons built a two-goal lead in the second period on scores by Scott Mathis and Kyle DeLaurell while rocketing 35 shots on goal to the Griffs’ meager seven.  Lindsay cut the lead in half with 6:23 left in the game on a shorthanded marker—kind of a fluky goal, Lindsay had a breakaway, was taken down by an Air Force defender and, in the ensuing mess, the puck floated off the Canisius forward and into the Falcons’ net—but Chad Demers scored 83 seconds later to up the advantage to 3-1 for the home team.

The Griffs, of course, tied the game and came within a hair of the upset.  Gibbons centered a pass in the closing seconds and linemate Preston Shupe knocked the puck into the back of the net a fraction of a second after the final horn had sounded.

After being outshot in the first two periods, Canisius held a 17-13 advantage in shots during the third and overtime periods. Overall, the Falcons finished with a 48-24 advantage. Neither team scored on the power play, with Canisius killing all six Air Force extra-man chances and going 0-for-2 with its power play opportunities.

Stephen Caple recorded 21 saves in net for the Falcons.

Canisius returns to action next Saturday, hosting Bentley for the first of two contests. Game time at the Buffalo State Sports Arena is set for 6:05 p.m.

(Photo via GoAirForceFalcons.com)

TAGGED: air force, atlantic hockey association, canisius griffins, golden griffins

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