BUFFALO, N.Y. — Eric Sefchiks short-handed goal with less than two minutes left to play lifted the Army Black Knights over the Canisius Golden Griffins, 4-3, Sunday night at the Buffalo State Sports Arena.
Our guys took a big step when they were out there killing a penalty, Army head coach Brian Riley said. It was a big time play. Were just really proud that our guys could come out and battle like they did tonight.
It looked as if the game would head to overtime after Canisius tied the game at three at 14:49 of the third on a Dave Kostuch power play goal. Carl Hudsons shot from the point got through to the net and Kostuch picked up the rebound. His first attempt was stopped but he kept fighting for the puck and slammed it around the Army goaltender for his second goal of the game. Vincent Scarsella also received an assist on the play.
We battled back two times and then to have it end the way it did is disappointing, Canisius head coach Dave Smith said. We made a high-risk play that didnt work and they came down with numbers and beat the goalie. Were trying to win and were playing to win and unfortunately it went the other way on us.
Both teams scored two power play goals a piece with Army going two-for-seven and Canisius getting two goals on eight chances.
The game, which was originally scheduled for a 4:05 P.M. start was delayed by a Zamboni problem right after the completion of warm-ups. As a result, it didnt start until 5:17 P.M.
Army opened the scoring with a power play goal at 14:45 of the first period. Kyle Maggard received a pass from behind the net by Marcel Alvarez and deflected it through Griffins goaltender Dan Morrison. The puck trickled over the line as Morrison reached his glove back to try to cover the puck.
Canisius almost tied the score on a five-on-three when Hudsons low shot from the point hit the far post along the ice and slammed back out. Jason Weeks also had a chance on the same power play as he received a pass at the bottom of the circle but his shot went over the net.
Pat Kenney got Canisius on the scoreboard at 4:08 of the second period. From just outside the Griffins defensive zone Scott Moser found Peter MacDougall at the Army blue line. A slight touch of the puck by a guarded MacDougall enabled Kenney skate in alone, pick up the puck and deke to score his third of the season.
Kostuch gave his team the lead at 10:14 of the second period on the power play. Cory Conacher sent a cross-ice pass to Kostuch just inside the right circle and his clean shot found the back of the net.
Alex McRae scored his first of the season for Army off a rebound at the right side of the net with 2:22 left to go in the second.
Chris Spracklen slammed a goal into an open net on the power play at 13:21 of the third to give Army the 3-2 lead. Zach McKelvie and Bryant Skarda tallied assists on the play.
Armys short-handed opportunity developed after the Canisius defenders were caught in the offensive zone. The Black Knights had a two-on-one with the Griffins man racing to catch Sefchik. Once inside the Canisius zone, he sent a shot from the right wing that beat the goalie for the game-winner.
Canisius battled for the equalizer in the final minute and a half but could not connect on numerous chances.
Sophomore Jay Clark started his second game of the weekend for the Black Knights and ended with 21 saves.
Clark did a good job in goal for us both nights, Riley said. You ask your goalie to give you a chance to win and he did that for us both nights.
Its a big improvement from last night and our last two games, Army forward Cody Omilusik, who received an assist on the game-winner, said. Weve been struggling lately and we put it together tonight for 60 minutes so its a big plus for us. I think its a culmination of all that weve been working on the last week that we put together tonight.
The sentiments on the Canisius side were hardly as positive.
Its extremely frustrating especially when we had them right there and came back, Kostuch said. One of the most frustrating losses we had all season I think.
The Griffins are now 7-6-3 overall and 5-4-1 in Atlantic Hockey action. The Black Knights improved to 4-9-1 overall and 4-7-1 in the Atlantic conference.
Canisius is off next weekend but returns to action with a home-and-home series against Mercyhurst on December 19 and 20. Army is idle for three weeks before games on December 28 and 29th at the Dartmouth tournament.