WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — For the second straight night, Canisius (7-6-1, AHA 6-3-1) took advantage of timely opportunities and solid goaltending to shut out American International College (2-8-1, AHA 2-6-1) at the Olympia Ice Center. This time, the Griffs secured a 4-0 win.
Looking to shake off the rust from Friday night’s loss, AIC was aggressive right out of the gates. Physical play set the tone early on, enabling both squads to develop a few worthwhile scoring chances, including an end-to-end rush by Canisius forward Vincent Scarsella. However, the lone goal of the first period came from a penalty shot.
After stealing a Nielsson Arcibal centering pass, Canisius sprung sophomore Scott Moser on a breakaway. Arcibal rushed back and took down Moser, denying him a quality scoring opportunity at the 15:58 mark. The ensuing penalty shot, a Moser deke to his backhand, found its way to the back of the net, earning Canisius the 1-0 lead.
The game slipped away from AIC during the second period, when their aggressive style resulted in three power plays for the visitors. Canisius potted goals on each of their advantages, securing a commanding lead.
The first came just 1:19 into the frame, with AIC’s Adam Pleskach in the box for interference. Canisius set up their power play and moved the puck efficiently around the horn. Eventually, Josh Heidinger slid the puck to Scarsella, who snuck it to Cory Conacher, sitting in the slot, for the goal.
With the assist, Heidinger passed David Deeves as Canisius’s all-time assist leader. It was the 72nd helper of his career for the senior from Buffalo, NY.
“His hockey IQ and his passion for winning and his growth together with the program has been tremendous,” said Canisius coach Dave Smith of Heidinger, after the game.
Canisius capitalized on another man advantage six minutes later, after Steve McLeod was whistled for charging. Canisius again set up their power play. Nifty passing from Carl Hudson and Scarsella allowed Conacher to score his second of the game and fourth of the weekend, on a shot that clanged off the post.
Jason Cohen’s tripping call led to the Griff’s final power-play goal of the stanza, when forward Jason Weeks deftly tipped a Dave Cianfrini shot from the point. The puck snuck into the far corner, advancing Canisus’s lead to 4-0 at the 13:05 mark. Kostuch was credited with the other helper.
The two AHA opponents traded opportunities in the third, but neither was able to slap the puck over the goal line. Canisius finished the game with a narrow shots-on-goal advantage, 33-32.
The difference maker in this game, though, came down to special teams play. Canisius converted three-of-four opportunities, including a penalty shot. The Yellow Jackets were 0-7.
“We got a little tentative on our penalty kill,” summarized AIC coach Mike Field. “Not to mention the fact that they’re very good. They’re unbelievably skilled (and their) power play’s very good.”
With the shutout, Canisius has posted three consecutive shutouts, a first in the program’s history.
“It’s nice that the guys get rewarded in the statistical column, because we have played hard, and we have played big defense together,” said Smith. “Sometimes it’s as much a lucky statistic as it is good, but you need both to be successful, so we’ll take it.”
Both teams continue their league play next weekend. Canisius will play Bentley twice at home. Meanwhile, AIC welcomes Mercyhurst for a pair.