NIAGARA, N.Y. — Canisius’ dominant 5-2 win over Niagara before a sold-out Dwyer Arena
may not turn out in retrospect to be their most significant victory of the season, but it certainly has to rank as one of the most satisfying efforts for the Golden Griffins, who left no doubt that they are a team to be reckoned with down the stretch in Atlantic Hockey.
It is understood in Western New York that when these two teams hook up for their annual rivalry, statistics and records are rendered meaningless to a contest of will. But apparently this year Canisius was the only team to embrace this rugged mindset, while Niagara languished in intensity as the game broke open in the second period after Canisius forward Joel Kitchen streaked down the right wing on a two-on-one and beat Niagara goaltender Scott Mollison.
Tonight’s game seemed to witness a different Canisius team that recorded its first ever victory on Niagara’s home ice. Instead of relying on physicality to create neutral zone turnovers, the Griffs played a very tactical game, winning the contest from their net out with a smothering defense and an excellent transition game.
“We haven’t beaten Niagara in two years,” Griffs goalie Bryan Worosz
said. … The seniors on this team want to go out on a high note and I think the underclassmen sensed that and they raised the level of their play tonight.”
Niagara opened the scoring shortly into the first period when Ryan Gale sent Sean Bentivoglio in on Worosz. The speedy Bentivoglio has had his share of breakaways this year, and this time he cashed in with a shot between the pads of the Griffs netminder.
Canisius evened things up moments later on a goal credited to Fred
Coccimiglio that appeared to have been kicked in.
James LeCuyer opened the scoring in the second for Canisius after he outhustled Niagara defender Ryan Carrigan on a clearing attempt which Mollison misplayed and allowed Le Cuyer an open-net goal.
Kitchen’s decisive third goal followed the Mollison miscue. From that
moment on, Canisius was the better team. Kitchen played huge all night and his linemates Mike Ruberto and Michael Cohen created havoc for the Purple Eagles. So ,too, did Griffs senior Josh Zavitz who lead a defense corps that often kept Niagara to the perimeter and gave Worosz open looks at Purple Eagle shots throughout most of the contest.
Chris Angelo punctuated the final moments of the second period with a
stunning ice level wrist shot to push Canisius’ lead to 4-1.
Niagara scored its second tally of the night when Matt Carruana finally
broke the Griffs defense with a wraparound late in the third period.
Niagara pulled Mollison with a 1:40 left but Michael Cohen managed to clear the puck out of the Canisius defensive zone with a nifty play and fed Mike Ruberto for the empty netter.