BUFFALO, N.Y. — The RIT Tigers, with the help of a Matthew Crowell hat trick, defeated the Canisius Golden Griffins, 5-2, Thursday night at the Buffalo State Sports Arena. The victory extends RIT’s winning streak to ten games.
“The whole team is helping us win,” RIT head coach Wayne Wilson said. “We have so many contributing that it’s not our goaltender that is doing it all or Matt Crowell scoring all the goals. Tonight it was the guys who weren’t on the scoreboard but were killing penalties. It’s been a team effort.”
The Tigers wasted no time and at the 37-second mark of the first period put a goal past Canisius goaltender Andrew Loewen. Crowell scored his twelfth of the season tying him for the team lead with Brendan Sarazin. After an offensive zone face off, Crowell fired a quick, high shot that surprised Loewen. Andrew Favot and Alan Mazur assisted on the play.
The Tigers then jumped to a 2-0 lead at 7:54 of the first after a low shot from the right wing hit Loewen’s pads and bounced back toward RIT’s Trevor Eckenswiller. He picked up the puck, skated around Loewen at the top of the crease and stuffed it in.
Dan Morrison then replaced Loewen in net for the Griffs.
Canisius would answer on a power play at 11:47. Spencer Churchill sent a pass to Wes Love who dished it to Dave Cianfrini along the left boards. Cianfrini’s shot made it past RIT’s Jared DeMichiel.
Crowell regained the two-goal lead for the Tigers at 3:04 of the second period. His shot hit a Canisius defender, changed speed and beat Morrison just over his glove hand.
The Tigers increased their lead with 3:10 remaining in the second period when Stevan Matic won a battle along the right boards to keep the puck in the Canisius zone. He got the puck to Brent Alexin who sent it to the right side of the net where Anton Kharin tapped it into the open side.
Canisius’ Dave Kostuch scored his team-leading fifteenth goal of the season at 5:11 of the third period to pull his team back into the game. The Griffins took the puck up ice along the left wing and Scott Moser’s pass across found Kostuch skating hard at the net. A collision at the front of the crease knocked DeMichiel down and the puck was put into the net.
Crowell completed the hat trick at 19:53 of the third period into an empty net. Bobby Raymond’s attempt from just inside the blue line at the left boards was deflected by a diving defender but Jesse Newman picked up the loose puck behind the net and dished it to Crowell who tapped it in for his fourteenth goal of the season.
“The opportunities that RIT created were because they were aggressive and we weren’t fundamentally solid in our game,” Canisius head coach Dave Smith said. “The chances that they got were off of some mistakes that we made.”
The Griffs only gave the Tigers three power play opportunities during the game holding them scoreless on special teams play. Canisius went one-for-eight with the man-advantage but were unable to convert on any of their four opportunities in the second period.
“The power play was a snapshot of our overall game tonight,” Smith said. “It was okay but okay is not good enough.”
RIT outshot Canisius 36-23 but was held to only six shots in the second period. The Griffins’ Morrison ended the game with 28 saves in 50:36. DeMichiel had 21 saves for the Tigers.
Both teams were coming off weekend sweeps with the Tigers defeating AIC, 5-3 and 6-1, at home. Canisius had been riding high after sweeping the No. 15 ranked Air Force on the road with a 5-4 comeback win and a 4-2 victory last weekend.
RIT improves to15-9-1 overall and14-4-1 in Atlantic Hockey play. Their current winning streak has been against all Atlantic Hockey opponents. The loss drops Canisius to 9-9-4 overall and 7-7-2 in Atlantic Hockey action.
“Everyone works hard all year and we just want to get better every weekend,” Crowell said. “Winning has become a habit for us right now and we expect to win but we need to be ready to come play Sunday.”
The two rivals will meet again Sunday afternoon at 4:05 at the Buffalo State Sports Arena.