Sacred Heart used speed and opportunity to complete a weekend sweep of Canisius College. The Pioneers backed up Friday night's 4-3 win with another 4-3 win Saturday night at HarborCenter. It was the first time the Griffs had been swept by an Atlantic Hockey team in HarborCenter since making the facility their home last season.
Canisius opened the scoring at 8:46 of the first period. The Griffs' power play had just expired, but they kept the puck in the offensive zone and Mike Sabatini found Felix Chamberland in the low slot. The freshman quickly took advantage of his opportunity and scored his sixth goal.
The Pioneers responded two minutes later with a strong forecheck and good bounce off the end boards that Evan Japser blew past Griffs' goalie Simon Hofley.
Justin Danforth gave Sacred Heart a 2-1 lead 2:30 into the second period. He won the faceoff then put in a rebound off a shot by Jordan Minello.
The Pioneers then jumped on defensive breakdowns by the Griffs. Jasper extended the Pioneer's lead to 3-1, turning on speed up the wall, blowing by the Canisius defense and quickly moving to his backhand to beat Hofley. Then Adam Durkee put in a rebound off a Colytn Hansen shot for a 4-1 advantage.
The Griffs applied pressure in the third period and Hofley skated in and out to give Canisius the extra attacker during every offensive zone possession. The Griffs scored twice in the final 1:21 -- first a tally from Jimmy Mazza then one from Ryan Schmlezer with 30;.7 seconds left -- but the comeback ran out of time.
Breakaway chance: Shane Conacher had a short-handed breakaway at 16:16 of the second, but didn't get a great shot and Brett Magnus made the save for Sacred Heart, keeping the game 2-1 in favor of the Pioneers.
Against Sacred Heart: The Griffs have now lost three straight to Sacred Heart. It's the first three-game losing streak against the Pioneers since 2007. That spanned two seasons, as Sacred Heart won Jan. 26 and Jan. 27 and again on Oct. 26.
Records: Canisius fell to 10-11-5 in Atlantic Hockey and 10-17-5 overall. Sacred Heart improved to 10-3-3 in leageu play and 12-16-4 overall.
Hall of Fame: The Canisius College Sports Hall of Fame inducted two people from the hockey program this weekend. Ryan Stewart (1997) played in 100 career games for the Griffs with 131 career points (55 goals, 76 assists) and a plus-48 rating. The two-time captain and two-time team MVP is currently the Director of Pro Scouting for the Chicago Blackhawks. Brian Cavanaugh is the school’s winningest hockey coach with a career record of 341-306-57 in 24 seasons . He is currently the Director of Athletics at D’Youville.
Scratches: Canisius scartched forwards David Parrottino, Matt McLeod, Daniel LaFontaine, Josh Supryka and defenseman Ian Edmondson. Sacred Heart scratched Stephen Hladin, Spencer Graboski, Kory Kennedy, Nick Lotito and Sammy Bernard.
Next up: The Griffs close out the regular season with a home-and-home series with Atlantic Hockey leader Robert Morris. The teams play in HarborCenter on Friday, Feb. 26 then in Pittsburgh at the 84 Lumber Arena on Saturday, Feb. 27.