The Canisius College hockey team is one of the hottest squads in the country. They have gone 9-0-3 in their last 12 games, compiling the longest active unbeaten streak in the country.
Think Niagara would like to end that streak?
The two Western New York rivals get together this week for a couple of games. The home-and-home set begins on Wednesday night, when HarborCenter hosts the opener at 7:35. Then it’s off to Dwyer Arena for a Friday night matchup on Niagara’s home ice. Both games will be broadcast on Radio 1340 AM, and Friday’s will be shown on TWCSN.
Canisius is looking down at the rest of the Atlantic Hockey conference. The Golden Griffins have a one-point lead on second-place Air Force entering the week’s play. Canisius already has wrapped up a home game in the first round of the Atlantic Hockey Tournament; the quarterfinals will be played March 11-13.
One of the keys to the fine play by the Griffins has been the good work of goaltender Charles Williams. He continues to lead the nation in save percentage at .943. He has a goals-against average of 1.92 and has recorded four shutouts. Both of those numbers put him among the nation’s leaders.
On offense, Dylan McLaughlin and Ryan Schmelzer lead the way. McLaughlin is Canisius’ top scorer with 27 points, and has 18 points in the team’s last 12 games. Schmelzer is second with 25 points, and has points in nine of his last 10 games. Schmelzer also has four game-winning goals.
Canisius is coming off a good weekend series against Sacred Heart. The Griffins earned three points out of a possible four in their trip to Bridgeport, Conn. Canisius rallied in the first game to pick up a tie, and held off the Pioneers to take the second contest.
Niagara is heading in the opposite direction as Canisius, having lost its last eight games. Army West Point picked up two wins over the Purple Eagles last week. Niagara made the second game interesting, but lost in overtime. Ten of the Eagles’ 12 points in that game came from freshmen, and Tyler Tomberlin had his first two goals of the season.
Niagara’s young players have been leading the way this season. Three of the top four scorers are freshman, and Noah Delmas leads the team in scoring with 14 points - all assists. Kris Spriggs is right behind at 13 points .
Canisius won the first two meetings of the season between the teams.