Lewiston, N.Y. – (Canisius) The Canisius College hockey team exploded for six goals in a 6-3 victory over Battle of the Bridge rival Niagara on Saturday night. With the win, Canisius improves to 10-16-6 on the season and 9-11-5 in Atlantic Hockey play, while the Purple Eagles drop to 17-12-3 and 14-10-1 against league foes.
“We played a very good and complete game tonight,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “All four lines, six defensemen and our goal tending made good and simple plays to earn us this victory. We knew we were capable of this kind of performance. Our goals early in the game were especially big for our confidence.”
Senior Vincent Scarsella (Lackawanna, N.Y.) led the Griffs with three points on two goals and an assist to lead Canisius to the victory. Senior Chris Forsman (Powell River, British Columbia), sophomore Preston Shupe (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) and freshmen Taylor Law (Markham, Ontario) and Patrick Sullivan (Derby, N.Y.) rounded out the scoring for the Griffs in the victory.
Freshman Ben Danford (Stillwater, Minn.) paced the Canisius attack with three assists on the night, raising his season totals to 22 points and 20 assists. The freshman now owns the program’s record for most points by a rookie defender and matched the single-season mark for assists by a defender.
Junior Dan Morrison (London, Ontario) recorded 43 saves to earn the victory in goal.
“This was a real big win for us, especially now that we’re entering the final stretch.” Scarsella said. “It is nice to get some momentum on our side with just two games left before playoffs and it felt really good to get some goals. To score six goals at Niagara in their building is a big confidence boost.”
The Griffs ended a 186:17 scoreless drought to take the early 1-0 advantage 6:03 into the contest. Danford fired a shot from the blue line and Law tipped it past the Niagara goaltender for his seventh score of the season. Classmate Kyle Gibbons (Westlake, Ohio) also registered an assist on the game’s opening goal.
Canisius stretched its lead to two, scoring a power-play goal with 5:18 remaining in the first. Senior Cory Conacher (Burlington, Ontario) found Scarsella open from the back of the net and the senior scored in the upper 90 for the 2-0 lead. Danford posted his second assist of the period on Scarsella’s ninth goal of the season.
Sullivan struck early in the second for the Griffs as Canisius continued its strong play. The freshman scored on a rebound from a shot by senior Eric Rex (Fairview, Pa.) to give Canisius a 3-0 lead 1:16 into the period. Freshman Duncan McKellar (Phoenix, Ariz) also posted an assist on the goal, registering his first collegiate point.
Shupe then stretched the Canisius lead to 4-0 when he tallied his ninth goal of the season with 12:50 remaining in the second stanza. Scarsella sent a pass through the goal crease and to the sophomore, who knocked the puck in on the open net. Sophomore Torrey Lindsay (Grosse Isle, Manitoba) also registered an assist on the goal.
The Purple Eagles were quickly whistled for a penalty after Shupe’s score and both teams were able to take advantage. Scott Arnold tallied a short-handed goal for Niagara with 12:02 left in the period before Forsman scored on the power play just 49 seconds later. The senior fired a shot in from the blue line with Danford and Conacher both posting assists on the extra-man score.
Niagara then took advantage of a power play of its own. Ryan Rashid ripped a shot in with 7:47 left in the second frame as the Purple Eagles pulled to within three, 5-2. Niagara then added a third goal on the night 7:08 into the third period when Clark MacLean knocked in a loose puck to cut into the Griffs’ lead, 5-3.
The Canisius defense stepped up from there, securing the team’s first victory at Niagara since 2005. The Griffs killed two-consecutive power plays in the final five minutes that spanned 3:52. Scarsella then sealed the victory with an empty-net goal, connecting on a pass from Shupe with 41 ticks remaining.
The Purple Eagles outshot the Griffs, 46-31, on the night, including a 20-10 edge in the third period. Canisius went 2-for-3 on the power play, while Niagara was 1-for-7 with the extra-man advantage.
Chris Noonan and Cody Campbell combined to make 25 saves for the Purple Eagles in the losing effort.
Canisius wraps up the regular season next weekend with a home-and-home series against Mercyhurst. The Griffs host the Lakers on Friday night and will honor their nine seniors following the contest. Game time at the Buffalo State Sports Arena is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Game Notes: The Griffs ended a three-game losing streak in the series … Danford surpassed Carl Hudson’s record of most points by a rookie defender. Hudson recorded 21 points during the 2006-07 season … Danford also matched the assist record of 20 held by Hudson (2009-10) and Derek Gilham (1998-99) … The Griffs dressed only four regular blueliners on the night … McKellar, playing his first game on defense, posted an assist and a +3 rating in the game … Canisius pulled to within one point in the Battle of the Bridge series with its win, 10-9.