BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Canisius Golden Griffins and the Mercyhurst Lakers skated to a 2-2 tie Saturday night, as two Lakers’ goals in the opening minutes of the third evened the score. It was the sixth time in the last eleven meetings that the two teams went to overtime.
“There are some nights when ties feel like losses and there are other nights when ties feel like wins,” Mercyhurst coach Rich Gotkin said. “It was one of those nights where this tie felt like a win. We battled and found a way to get a point and I’m proud of our team.”
Canisius opened the scoring at 15:29 of the first period when a John Patera shot from the left point hit teammate Derek Danowski and slipped past Mercyhurst goalie Ryan Zapolski. It was the sophomore’s first goal of the season for the Griffins.
An early goal in the second period gave the Griffins a 2-0 lead at 2:23. Dave Kostuch skated up the left boards and passed across to Jason Weeks, who dished it to Danowski on the right wing. Danowski’s shot hit Zapolski and deflected up before coming down behind the goalie and crossing the goal line. With his second goal of the night, Danowski matched his goal total from last year.
“It feels pretty relieving,” Danowski said about his goals. “It was a well-battled game that could go either way. Both teams played hard.”
Later in the second period, both teams started a parade to the penalty box. Nine penalties were called in the second, which had the teams playing five-on-four, four-on-four and four-on-three. Canisius was whistled for 52 minutes worth of penalties by the end of overtime, while Mercyhurst had forty minutes worth of penalties.
The penalties cost Canisius in the third.
The Lakers converted on a five-on-three at 2:30 of the third when Scott Pitt’s slap shot from fifteen feet in front of the blue line found the back of the Griffins’ net.
Just over a minute later at 3:41, Matt Pierce scored his eleventh of the season right after a Lakers power play had expired. He sent a shot from the goal line near the boards that tied the game. Steve Cameron and Brett Robinson notched assists on the game-tying goal.
“Both teams were one play or one save tonight from winning or losing,” Canisius coach Dave Smith said. “They are a very good transition team and after the first period I thought we did a very nice job of limiting their transition game.”
Canisius goaltender Andrew Loewen recorded 39 saves in the game while Zapolski earned 29, including two on Canisius breakaways.
“Coaches ask their goalies to do one thing-give them a chance to win,” Gotkin said. “Ryan Zapolski absolutely did that and I thought Mr. Loewen played great as well. He made some terrific saves in the first and second period that could have gone in the net. Both goaltenders played well, but we asked Zapolski to give us a chance tonight and he clearly did that.”
The Griffins are now 7-6-4 overall on the season and the Lakers hold a 7-10-2 record. Tonight’s game was supposed to be the second of a home-and-home series, but Friday night’s game at Mercyhurst was postponed due to the weather. No make-up date has been set, but the teams will meet again for a home-and-home series to close the season on February 27 and 28.