BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Canisius Golden Griffins scored two goals in the final two minutes of regulation to tie the Sacred Heart Pioneers, 3-3, Friday night at the Buffalo State Sports Arena. The comeback marks the sixth time this season that Canisius has rallied in the third period to earn at least a point.
Canisius had ample opportunities to win it in overtime and began the session with 1:21 of power-play time. A scrum at the right side of the net almost resulted in a goal for the Griffins one minute into the extra session.
Vincent Scarsella also had the game on his stick in the sudden death period after he stripped the puck from a Sacred Heart defender just outside the blue line. As the Pioneers other defender skated across to cover him, Scarsella delayed too long and wound up with just one option at the right side of the net.
We talked all game about getting more opportunities at the net, Canisius head coach Dave Smith said. We were rewarded in the end but I think we need to continue to improve upon that.
Dave Grimson scored his third of the year for Sacred Heart at 4:56 of the first period. With Canisius goaltender Dan Morrison facing the puck on the right wing, Eric Giosa sent a pass across to the left circle. Grimson wristed a shot into the open net as Morrison dove back with his stick outstretched.
Defender Carl Hudson scored his eighth of the year for the Griffins on the power play. Sacred Hearts goaltender, Stefan Drew, took a slashing penalty at 17:45 and with both the period and penalty expiring, Hudson shot from the right point. The puck deflected off a defender in front and past the goaltender at 19:28. Josh Heidinger and Dave Cianfrini received assists on the play.
Canisius opened the second period putting pressure and winning battles around the Sacred Heart net. A pass from the right boards by Scarsella found Dave Kostuch in the right circle. Kostuch spun around and sent a shot at the net but Drew deflected it into the corner.
They had good traffic, Sacred Heart head coach Shaun Hannah said. We defended our slot real well so when you get their guys going to the net and our guys trying to get inside position it creates a lot of traffic. But overall we did a good job of limiting their chances in tight.
A goal at the 3:59 mark of the second period by Matt Gingera sparked the Pioneers. From behind the net, the puck came in the air to the left of the net and Gingera batted it in from his position just outside the crease.
During a 4-on-4 situation, Giosa overpowered and skated through the Canisius defense along the right boards, cut across the ice in front of the crease, and slipped the puck through Morrison for his team-leading 10th of the season.
With the Pioneers shorthanded in the final two minutes, the Griffins pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. Adam Brace, positioned in the right slot, tipped Spencer Churchills shot from the right point on goal. The rebound bounced off the pads of Drew to the left of the net where Jason Weeks tapped it in at 18:08 to pull the Griffins within one.
Hudson got his second of the game with 40 seconds remaining to even the score.
A shot from the left point found its way through traffic to the front of the net and was eventually put in after a scrum to the left of the crease.
In their 5:02 of power-play time in the first period, Canisius fired 10 shots on goal at the Sacred Heart net. They ended the game 2-for-8 on the power play while the Pioneers did not convert on either of their two man-advantage opportunities.
The Griffins outshot the Pioneers, 30-24. Drew earned 27 saves in net for Sacred Heart while Morrison stopped 21 shots for Canisius. Hudson, Brace, and Cianfrini each had two points for the Griffins while Bear Trapp and Giosa both had multi-point nights for the Pioneers.
We were working hard and our power play was good at getting shots through, Canisius Hudson said. Tomorrow we have to come back focused and ready to get two points.
Sacred Heart is now 6-15-4 overall and 6-10-3 in Atlantic Hockey action. Canisius improves to 9-10-5 overall and 7-8-3 in conference play. The two teams will meet again tomorrow night at 7:05 at the Buffalo State Sports Arena.