Grit, hustle, and a good game plan helped the Canisius Golden Griffins to take a 4-1 victory over the RIT Tigers. Jason Weeks tallied two goals, and assisted on a third score, to lead Canisius on the scoreboard.
“It was a pretty spirited affair,” said Canisius coach Dave Smith. “Obviously we are pretty happy with our effort.”
Canisius (7-19-2) carried play in the opening period, winning the races to loose pucks and out-hustling RIT to the corners. RIT (16-9-2) had several good scoring opportunities mid-period, but the Canisius defense kept most of the Tiger chances towards the outside.
“Winning the little battles is always part of our game plan,” said Smith. “Perhaps our players concentrated on it a little more tonight. We really emphasize trying to be a little more aggressive at the drop of the puck and it was really nice to see that happen.”
The Golden Griffs had the best chance to break the scoreless tie with three minutes remaining in the period while on one of their three power plays of the period. Jason Weeks had parked himself just at the top of the crease and waited for the puck to come to him. When it did, he took three whacks as the spinning puck wobbled towards the right post. Each of Weeks’ backhanders bounced off of RIT goaltender Jocelyn Guimond’s outstretched right leg pad and the game remained tied 0-0 at the first intermission.
Weeks didn’t make the same mistake early in the second period, scoring on a rush up ice to get the Ice Griffs on the scoreboard. Michael Cohen spotted Weeks on a rush up ice after an RIT defender let up, and Weeks wristed the pass past Guimond for the goal at 1:53.
“We are going to have some bumps along the road, it is that time of year,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “We are disappointed, frustrated, and all those other words you use when you lose.”
The Ice Griffs took advantage of open ice midway through the period to score again while the teams were each skating down a man. Billy Irish-Baker carried the puck past in to the Tigers zone, and left a drop pass for Kyle Bushee. A rifle shot from Bushee eluded Guimond, for Bushee’s first goal of his collegiate career, at 9:16 to build the Canisius lead to 2-0.
Canisius continued to carry play up and down the ice and Weeks snuck another wristshot just inside the near post for a goal at 13:44 for a commanding 3-0 Ice Griffs lead.
“[Weeks] has terrific hands and played very well,” said Smith. “He is very shifty and is hard to defend.”
The third Canisius goal caused RIT Wayne Wilson to call a timeout and settle the Tigers. The ploy worked, as RIT came out of the stoppage with better play. Just under four minutes later, RIT was able to begin to dig out of the deep hole Canisius had dug for it with a goal.
Steve Pinizzotto carried the puck down the right boards and waited for linemate Steven Matic to get open on the far side of the crease. Matic final skated in to a hole, and Pinizzotto hit him with the pass, that Matic one-timed in for the goal at 17:11.
Canisius continued to lead on the shot chart as well, outshooting the Tigers 10-6 in the second period.
RIT carried the higher intensity in to the third period and poured intense pressure on the Canisius net for most of the final twenty minutes of play. But Canisius netminder Andrew Loewen, who hadn’t been called on much in the first two periods, was able to step up and stop all fourteen Tiger shots in the last stanza.
Tiger goaltender Guimond skated to the net with a minute and a half remaining in the game, and Spencer Churchill chipped in the empty netter at 18:44 to seal the 4-1 victory for the Golden Griffs.