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by Jourdon LaBarber / Buffalo Sabres

CANISIUS GOLDEN GRIFFINS (8-8-5 overall, 7-4-4 Atlantic Hockey)

On Wednesday, Griffs junior Ralph Cuddemi was officially listed on the ballot for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the nation’s top player. Over the weekend, he proved why.

Cuddemi tallied four points in a pair of 2-1 wins over Holy Cross on Friday and Saturday at HARBORCENTER. The sweep over the Crusaders served as a statement for the Griffs – Holy Cross had entered the weekend as the No. 2 see in Atlantic Hockey, having dropped only one conference game all season.

But 70 seconds into overtime of a 1-1 tie on Friday night, Canisius freshman Ryan Schmelzer netted a rebound off of a Cuddemi shot for the game-winner, the first goal of Schmelzer’s young career. Cuddemi had previously assisted on a goal from defenseman Chris Rumble that gave Canisius a 1-0 advantage in the second period.

Rumble's weekend work earned him Atlantic Hockey Defensive Player of the Week accolades. In a pair of victories over the Crusaders, Rumble helped limit Holy Cross to just two goals, while adding two points plus a team-best 10 shots and four blocked shots.

On Saturday, Cuddemi took matters into his own hands with goals in the first and third periods to complete the sweep. The junior scored first off a rebound less than five minutes into the game, then broke a 1-1 tie with just 2:31 to play to avoid overtime. Griffs goaltender Keegan Asmundson stopped 24-of-25 shots for his second-straight win.

Canisius will travel for a contest against rival Mercyhurst on Tuesday night before returning home for a two-game set with Bentley. All three games might have huge ramifications in the tight Atlantic Hockey Standings; Bentley, Mercyhurst and Canisius are currently the conference’s three, four and five seeds respectively. The three teams are tied 18 points.

Upcoming Games

  • 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 (3-15-2 overall, 3-11-2 Atlantic Hockey)
Niagara struggled to protect the lead in a pair of road losses to Air Force on Friday and Saturday, both by a score of 4-3. Coming out of the weekend, the Purple Eagles have not won since defeating Army 4-1 on Nov. 22.

Niagara had several chances to end that winless streak on Friday night, pulling ahead three times against the Falcons in Colorado Springs. They ended the first period with a 1-0 lead following a goal from freshman Albin Karlsson, but allowed Air Force to tie the game early in the second.

That remained the theme throughout the night – Niagara regained the lead less than three minutes later on a goal from Brock Edwards but gave it away before intermission. Their third period lead, following a goal from Isaac Kohls, lasted only 80 seconds and Air Force broke the pattern with less than four minutes to play.

After relinquishing a 2-0 lead in the second period on Saturday, Niagara was once again able to pull ahead in the third on a goal from freshman Lawrence Smith. But it was the same story: Air Force tied the game in the final minutes and took a shot that deflected off a Niagara skate for the overtime game winner. On the bright side of things, all three of Niagara’s goals on Saturday, from Smith and fellow freshmen Luke Edwards and Stanislav Dzakhov, were the first of their respective careers.

Niagara will finish a string of six-straight road games this weekend on Friday and Saturday at North Dakota.

Upcoming Games

  • Friday, January 16 @ North Dakota (7 p.m.)
  • Saturday, January 17 @ North Dakota (7 p.m.)

RIT TIGERS (6-10-4 overall, 5-5-4 Atlantic Hockey)
Like Niagara, the Tigers allowed three separate leads to slip away on Friday night. Unlike the Purple Eagles, RIT was able to come out of the weekend with three points following a 3-3 tie and a 3-2 win against American International.

The two teams traded goals in each period on Friday, with RIT’s Caleb Cameron opening the scoring in the first period and Josh Mitchell giving the Tigers the 3-2 advantage with 7:32 to play in the third. But in a 6-on-4 situation in favor of the Yellow Jackets, AIC’s Austin Orszulak tied the game with just 6.8 seconds to play. The Tigers outshot AIC 11-1 in overtime, but never managed to find the back of the net.

That momentum may have carried over into Saturday, however, as RIT scored two goals in the game’s first 2:06 and tacked on another in the second period as they outshot the Yellow Jackets 40-16 in the 3-2 victory. Mitchell, Andrew Miller and Garrett McMullen scored for the Tigers, who sit four points behind Canisius in the Atlantic Hockey standings heading into a four-game road trip that begins Friday at Bentley.

Upcoming Games

  • Friday, January 16 @ Sacred Heart (7:05 p.m.)
  • Saturday, January 17 @ Sacred Heart (7:05 p.m.)

BUFFALO STATE BENGALS (5-8-2 overall, 2-4-2 SUNYAC)
The Bengals took to the road for a pair of non-conference games last week with mixed results. Buffalo State lost to Elmira 6-4 on Tuesday night before coming up with a 3-2 overtime win against Nazareth on Saturday.

Trailing 2-0 in the second period against Elmira, Buffalo State freshman defenseman Garrett Chardon scored his first career goal to begin a 4-1 scoring run for the Bengals that would eventually culminate in their first lead of the night coming on a Jason Zaleski goal midway through the third period.

Then, things fell apart. Elmira spoiled the Bengals’ comeback with three goals in the game’s final 2:14 to send Buffalo State home with a loss.

They’d respond well on Friday, however, with Zaleski scoring less than four minutes into overtime to propel the Bengals to victory over Nazareth in a game in which they were outshot 34-17. Freshman goaltender Ian Sylves made 32 saves to earn his fourth win of the season.

Buffalo State will finish up its non-conference schedule on the road this weekend, with contests on Friday at Johnson and Wales, and Saturday at Curry.

Upcoming Games

  • Friday, January 16 @ Johnson and Wales (7 p.m.)
  • Saturday, January 17 @ Curry (4:30 p.m.)
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