With talent returning, Canisius seeks another step up

In 2009-10, Canisius enjoyed its best season under sixth-year coach Dave Smith, finishing fourth in Atlantic Hockey and advancing to the playoff semifinals for the first time since 2004.

Several Golden Griffins also won individual accolades, including senior Cory Conacher, the reigning player of the year in the AHA. Conacher put up 53 points last season and fellow all-star and linemate Vincent Scarsella had 41 points.

“Cory had a magic season last year,” Smith said in a news release. “He’s poised to break our all-time points record. Cory needs to continue to make his teammates better.”

Conacher and Scarsella are again expected to skate with Preston Shupe, who put up 25 points as a freshman.

“Every team needs a top line and they were just that for us last season,” Smith said. “They have proven that they can play against anybody else’s top line and create offense at the same time.”

Junior Dan Morrison should see the lion’s share of time in net again this season.

“This is the first year that we have a clear No. 1 coming into the season,” Smith said. “Dan Morrison will play a majority of the games for us. He’s a big-game goaltender who is going to get a lot of opportunities to really show his stuff.”

Like the other five teams in the AHA’s West “pod,” Canisius has a tough road to the playoffs. Even though the Griffs are expected to be better than last season, adding Robert Morris and Niagara to the mix dropped them to sixth in the preseason poll.

But Smith expects his program to improve despite the challenges.

“It’s time to take that next step as a program,” he said. “We’ve been able to improve our league record for five consecutive seasons and I’d like to see that trend continue.”

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