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Brian Cavanaugh tried to put a glaring statistic into context.

The Canisius coach explained that a major reason why his team entered the weekend ranked second nationally in penalty minutes was that game against Sacred Heart last Saturday.

You see, there was a scrum that resulted in a few misconducts, so that average of 28.9 minutes per game is a little misleading and . . .

Cavanaugh shrugged his shoulders and made a concession.

"We're probably in the penalty box a bit more than the coach would like, let's put it that way," Cavanaugh said with a smile. "The good news is we're killing penalties better this year."

Canisius extinguished nine power plays Friday and goalie Bryan Worosz stopped all 30 shots he faced in a 4-0 victory over Connecticut in Buffalo State Sports Arena.

Canisius in 2003-04 ranked last in penalty killing among the nine Atlantic Hockey Association teams but has been snuffing them like little birthday candles so far this season.

David Ovcjak and Michael Cohen scored power-play goals in the second period, while Williamsville North products James LeCuyer and Chris Angelo added insurance goals in the third.

The Golden Griffins and Huskies will meet again at 7 tonight.

Canisius has overcome its penalty woes to climb atop the AHA. It's 5-5-1 overall but tied for first with Sacred Heart at 4-1 in the conference. UConn is 1-8-1 overall, 0-2-0 in the AHA.

"The start that we're off to, from the freshmen all the way up through the seniors, everyone is molding together," LeCuyer said. "It's a good combination of everything."

Nowhere is the cohesiveness more apparent than when the Griffs are short-handed. They went into the weekend with an .872 penalty-killing percentage, best in the AHA.

"We have a lot of gritty guys, a lot of guys that are willing to sacrifice out there," Cavanaugh said. "Take hits and give hits. It doesn't mean they're not skilled, but it's a style that suits this particular club. We'd rather not have a wide-open, up-and-down type of game."

Worosz also has played impressively. The AHA's reigning Player of the Week has a career save percentage of .895, but he went into Friday night's game at .922, a number that only went up when he notched his sixth career shutout.

"We're pretty happy with our start," Worosz said. "A lot of teams don't even think about playing Canisius every year, that it's another two points in the standings. But we use that to our advantage. We don't take anyone lightly."

The calls, as to be expected, didn't favor Canisius through the first 26 minutes. Referee Brian Panek awarded UConn five of the first six power plays.

The Griffins quashed them all and bided their time until the whistle began to blow in their favor. They went on four straight power plays of their own in the second period, including two situations in which they were up two skaters. Ovcjak and Cowen put Canisius ahead, and Worosz did the rest.


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