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by Joe Ray / Buffalo Sabres

CANISIUS GOLDEN GRIFFINS (6-8-5 overall, 5-4-4 Atlantic Hockey)

In their first weekend back from the holiday break, Canisius traveled to Maine for a two-game series with the Black Bears. The Griffs struggled to find a rhythm offensively, losing 4-1 on Friday and 3-1 on Saturday.

On Friday, Doug Jessey scored the Griffs only goal midway through the first period with assists from Doug Beck and Josh Kielich. Chris Rumble registered five shots to lead Canisius, who were outshot 41-29 in game one of the weekend series. Keegan Asmundson stopped 37 shots in a loss that dropped the senior goaltender to 2-5-3 on the season.

While Canisius kept the game closer on Saturday, the end result was still the same as Friday. Trailing 1-0 in the first period, Ralph Cuddemi’s fourth power-play tally of the season tied the game. Maine scored the eventual game-winning goal just 53 seconds later. Maine forward Liam Pecararo, who was invited to Buffalo Sabres development camp this past summer, assisted on Nolan Vesey’s insurance goal in the second period. Reilly Turner made 36 saves in net Saturday for Canisius.

With the two losses this weekend, Canisius finishes their non-conference schedule with a record of 1-4-1. Canisius plays four of their next five at HARBORCENTER, with the lone exception being a game at Merychurst that was postponed during the November storm.

Upcoming Games

  • Friday, January 9 vs. Holy Cross (11:05 a.m., HARBORCENTER)
  • Saturday, January 10 vs. Holy Cross (7:35 p.m., HARBORCENTER)
  • Tuesday, January 13 @ Mercyhurst (7:05 p.m.)
  • Friday, January 16 vs. Bentley (7:35 p.m., HARBORCENTER)
  • Saturday, January 17 vs. Bentley (7:35 p.m., HARBORCENTER)

NIAGARA PURPLE EAGLES (3-13-2 overall, 3-9-2 Atlantic Hockey)
While Niagara failed to put together a winning effort at Sacred Heart, they did earn one tie on the weekend. The Pioneers defeated the Purple Eagles 5-2 on Friday before the two teams skated to a 2-2 tie on Saturday.

Defenseman Nick Cecere scored a power-play goal and an assist Friday night in the loss. His goal tied the game at 1-1 late in the first, but Sacred Heart then started a three-goal run in a dominant second period to secure the win. Chris Lochner also scored for Niagara, and Jackson Teichroeb made 31 saves in the loss.

The line of Chris Lochner, Dan Kolenda and Keegan Harper helped the Purple Eagles earn their second tie of the season on Saturday. Kolenda scored his fourth goal of the season on an assist from Harper five minutes into the second, and Harper earned a power-play tally with each of his linemates assisting. Teichroeb stepped to the forefront with 39 saves, his second-highest total of the season.

Niagara also received a boon with the return of Vincent Muto, who was injured back on October 11. The Purple Eagles will need all hands on deck with road trips to Air Force and North Dakota coming up the next two weekends.

Upcoming Games
  • Friday, January 9 @ Air Force (9 p.m.)
  • Saturday, January 10 @ Air Force (9 p.m.)
  • Friday, January 16 @ North Dakota (7 p.m.)
  • Saturday, January 17 @ North Dakota (7 p.m.)

RIT TIGERS (5-10-3 overall, 4-5-3 Atlantic Hockey)
Although the Tigers finished in fourth place at the Mariucci Classic in Minneapolis last weekend, they earned invaluable experience against two opponents ranked in the nation’s top 10 teams. Ninth-ranked University of Massachusetts-Lowell buried the Tigers 7-3 in the opening round Friday night. In the third-place game, RIT lost an overtime heartbreaker 3-2 to eighth-ranked Minnesota.

RIT fell behind 5-1 after two periods on Friday, with Danny Smith scoring the lone goal early. Josh Mitchell and Caleb Cameron each added unassisted tallies in the third period, but UMass-Lowell could not be contained. Jordan Ruby stopped 23 of 28 shots over the first two periods for RIT, while Ken MacLean turned away 13 of 15 in the final period.

Playing for the third place against the host Minnesota Golden Gophers, the Tigers nearly pulled off a stunning upset. Down 2-1 in the final period, Brandon Thompson’s second goal of the season tied it for RIT with 7:08 left in regulation. In the extra period, however, Buffalo Sabres prospect Hudson Fasching set up Kyle Rau for the game-winner.

While RIT was outshot 49-21 in the loss, goaltender Mike Rotolo gave his team a chance with a career-high 46 saves. Rotolo’s effort nearly helped RIT pull off a second-straight upset of Minnesota at the Mariucci Classic, after the Tigers shocked the Golden Gophers in a 4-3 win in 2007.

RIT returns home to host AIC this weekend before playing four straight on the road.

Upcoming Games
  • Friday, January 9 vs. AIC (7:05 p.m., Gene Polisseni Center)
  • Saturday, January 10 vs. AIC (7:05 p.m., Gene Polisseni Center)
  • Friday, January 16 @ Sacred Heart (7:05 p.m.)
  • Saturday, January 17 @ Sacred Heart (7:05 p.m.)

BUFFALO STATE BENGALS (4-7-2 overall, 2-4-2 SUNYAC)
After entering the holiday break with a two-game winning streak in hand, the Bengals earned one more win at the Northfield Savings Bank Holiday Tournament. The Bengals topped the Neumann Knights 5-2 in the opening round, but fell 4-1 in the championship game to the host Norwich Cadets.

Brett Hope, Nick Berst and Ryan Salkeld scored Friday night to open a 3-1 Buffalo State lead after one period. Ryan Demyen also scored, and Taylor Pryce’s empty net goal served as insurance. Jake Rosen had two assists in the win, and Ian Sylves made 37 saves in net.

Buffalo State’s win streak came to a halt in the championship game against Norwich, the second-ranked team in NCAA Division III. Rosen scored a power-play tally in the second period, but a shorthanded goal put the Cadets up 3-1 entering the final period, where they held on for the win. Sylves made 26 saves in the loss to Norwich, and was named to the All-Tournament team along with Rosen.

The Bengals now kick off a six-game road trip, which starts with four non-conference opponents.

Upcoming Games:

  • Tuesday, January 6 @ Elmira (7 p.m.)
  • Saturday, January 10 @ Nazareth (7 p.m.)
  • Friday, January 16 @ Johnson & Wales (7 p.m.)
  • Saturday, January 17 @ Curry (4:30 p.m.)
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