NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — Entering the 2001-2002 MAAC season, it was safe to say that Iona would go as far as its goaltending would take it. The Gaels’ 5-3 victory over Canisius Friday proved Iona is a team to be reckoned with as Scott Galenza made 35 saves — ranging from the routine to the acrobatic.
“I thought in the second period [we were] outshooting and out-chancing them. We could easily have come out of there tied if it wasn’t for Galenza. He made a big difference for them in the second period,” Canisius coach Brian Cavanaugh said of the freshman goaltender, who stopped 13 of 14 second-period shots.
Galenza was quick to praise his teammates. “We kept them contained to the outside for the most part. As for the shots that were coming, I was able to see them the whole time. More times than not, if I see the shot, I am going to stop it — hopefully,” Galenza said. “It was kind of nice to get a couple of shots early on and get comfortable. We came out playing quite well because we knew this was going to be a big game for us. The guys responded by scoring five goals again.”
Both teams started the game in ill humor and the bad feelings carried on to the final whistle. The teams combined for a total of 58 minutes in penalties — the same number the two teams accumulated in their two previous games combined.
Iona took the lead midway through the first period as Brent Williams converted on a rebound to beat Canisius goaltender Bryan Worosz at the right post at 11:28.
The Gaels extended their lead less than six minutes later on a five-minute power play. Referee Bob Ritchie assessed a major for charging to Daryl Pierce when he ran over Galenza at the top of the Iona crease. After lying prone on the ice for a few minutes, Galenza shook of the cobwebs and remained in the game.
Iona capitalized as Jean-Paul Chaput was left wide open in the slot and he one-timed Williams’ pass behind Worosz at 17:21 — just under three minutes into the five-minute major.
“You come into the game making sure you’re ready to play. Tonight our line [Williams, Tim Krueckl and Erik Nates] was ready to go and we capitalized early and that was a big boost to our team. For us to get a lead on team like that is pretty important,” Williams said.
The second period was all Canisius, even though the two teams traded goals. The Golden Griffins outshot the Gaels 14-4, and as Cavanaugh said, Galenza was the difference — especially when Canisius had the man advantage.
“Scott was the difference in the game. He was the difference of the game early. When you take into consideration Canisius had 10 power plays, Scott was out best penalty killer tonight,” Iona coach Frank Bretti said as the Gaels killed off nine of 10 Canisius power plays.
While it might have seemed the ice was tilted towards the Iona defensive zone, the Gaels stretched their lead to 3-0 as Rob Kellogg converted Kelly Bararuk’s centering pass at 13:04 of the second period.
Canisius finally solved Galenza as they converted on the power play at the 19:40 mark as Steve Birch scored on assists from David Deeves and Chris Duggan.
Canisius started the third period with a couple of strong shifts, but Iona and Galenza held strong as they regained their three-goal lead at 4:08 of the third period as Bararuk made up for missing a partially open net. Williams and Krueckl tracked down the wide shot and set Bararuk and the sophomore winger converted from the low slot.
Iona’s penalty killing units not only continued to throttle Canisius power plays, they made it 5-1 as Trevor McCall overpowered Worosz from the right circle at 10:02.
“When you’re down two goals going into the third period, you’ve got to press. When you’re pressing, you are going to get some odd-man rushes against you. We got caught and gave up the fourth one, and that one probably hurt more than anything else,” Cavanaugh said.
With a chance of hosting a playoff game slipping out of their hands, Canisius rallied for a pair of goals less than a minute apart. Paul DiPasquale converted on a sharp angle shot that just squeezed past Galenza at 11:37 of the third period. The Golden Griffins cut the lead to 5-3 as Fred Coccimiglio was left alone in front and the freshman winger waited for Galenza to make the first move before he slipped the puck under Galenza’s right pad.
Cavanaugh pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker with 1:54 remaining in the game and the faceoff deep in Iona territory. An Iona penalty made it 6-on-4 until a Canisius penalty 27 seconds later reduced play to a 5-on-4.
The penalty boxes started bursting at the seams with 11 seconds remaining as each team had three players sent off the ice for roughing. An extra penalty to Iona left Canisius with a two-man advantage for the final few seconds.
The loss puts Canisius in a tough spot because they might be forced to hit the road for an eight-hour bus ride, and a road game, in the first round of the MAAC playoffs — something Cavanaugh wanted to avoid. “We have our work cut out for us. Our fate is not in our hands because Holy Cross won tonight. So now we’re hoping that we get some help. We’ll just go (to West Point) and do the best job that we can and let the chips fall where they may,” he lamented.
Despite Iona’s modest two-game winning streak, Bretti continues to prime his team for the playoffs. “The only thing we are focusing on is getting better every day in practice and doing the things that we think are going to put us in a position to win. We feel very comfortable going into the playoffs. The most important thing is how our team is feeling from a game standpoint and a preparation standpoint,” he said.
Iona (13-16-2, 12-11-2 MAAC) finished up the regular season by hosting Mercyhurst at 7:30 p.m. at Skate Nation Arena. Canisius (14-16-3, 13-9-3 MAAC) travels up the Hudson to face Army at Tate Rink at 7:00 p.m.