BUFFALO, N.Y. — With the conference schedule winding ever closer to its conclusion, one of Atlantic Hockey’s all-time scorers helped his struggling seventh-place club salvage what came dangerously close to a lost weekend.
Senior winger Owen Meyer’s pair of third-period power-play goals allowed Army (6-7-3 in Atlantic Hockey, 7-11-4 overall) to settle for a 4-4 tie after squandering a mid-game, two-goal lead to Canisius College on Saturday at the Buffalo State Ice Arena in Buffalo, NY. The Black Knights lost to the fourth-place Golden Griffins (9-7-2, 11-10-3) on Friday, 5-2.
“Owen Meyer can be a dominant player out there,” Army coach Brian Riley said. “He has the ability to take over games. We need him to come up big for us down the stretch here.”
Meyer’s two goals raised his Army career total to 58, giving him sole possession of seventh place on the Atlantic Hockey all-time goal-scoring list. He is one goal behind former Mercyhurst star Dave Borrelli for sixth place and nine behind Pierre-Luc O’Brien, who tallied 67 goals for Sacred Heart from 2003 to 2007.
The milestone markers could not have come at a better time for the Black Knights, who initially took a 2-0 lead at 7:23 of the second period when sophomore forward Kyle Maggard completed a pretty give-and-go with freshman winger Andy Starczewski. Starczewski also assisted on sophomore wingman Danny Colvin’s first period power-play goal, finishing the weekend series with three points.
The Griffs — who are now 0-8-2 when trailing after the first period — came firing back. Ranked eighth in the nation in scoring offense, Canisius stormed back in front on senior forward Jason Weeks’ tap-in during a wild scrum in Army goaltender Jay Clark’s crease with 39 seconds before second intermission, the third power-play goal scored by the Griffs over a 5:34 span.
“We talk about outlasting (teams), and keeping our effort high for long periods of time,” Canisius coach Dave Smith said. “We feel like we’ll be rewarded. I do think there is a nice confidence with this team. It’s hard work — things weren’t coming, but we stayed together, we continued to play together, and we had a real nice stretch on the power play in the second period that obviously got us in the game.”
Entering the game with a 2-8-2 road record, Army was careening towards a ninth loss away from West Point before the cavalry arrived in the form of Meyer.
With Canisius defenseman Scott Jenks in the box on a hooking call, the veteran sniper positioned himself perfectly to receive a backdoor pass from senior center Eric Sefchik for an easy tip-in behind Canisius goaltender Dan Morrison at the 4:00 mark of the third period to tie the score at three apiece.
Meyer then gave the Black Knights their second lead of the game at 10:32 of the third period, again redirecting a backdoor pass from Sefchik while operating with the man advantage. Army scored three power-play goals in seven opportunities on the Griffs, who are now 45th among the 58 Division I schools in penalty killing.
However, the Black Knights could not prevent the high-powered Canisius offense from evening the score. Junior center Vincent Scarsella picked the puck out of a pack battling near the Army crease with 7:07 left in the game and flipped a shot past Clark from point-blank range for what would prove to be the final goal in the 4-4 tie.
“I gave it up to Dave Cianfrini, our defenseman, and he kind of shot it wide on purpose,” said Scarsella, who also added a pair of assists in the tie. Scarsella is third in assist scoring in Atlantic Hockey with 15. “Cory (Conacher) made a nice play on it — he brought it to the net — and I kind of slipped through some of their guys and kind of put it top shelf.”
Josh Heidinger had a goal and an assist for Canisius in the tie. Conacher had two assists, giving him 11 multi-point games this season and continuing his 12-game scoring streak. Conacher leads Atlantic Hockey with 17 assists in 18 conference games.
Clark was credited with 26 saves in net for the Black Knights. Morrison stopped 34 shots for the Griffs.
The Black Knights return to Tate Rink to host conference rival Connecticut on Friday and Saturday. The Griffs will travel next weekend to Stamford, Conn. to face Sacred Heart for their only two matchups with the Pioneers this season.