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Mile-high losses: Canisius, Niagara drop games in Colorado

by Amy Moritz

For the second straight game, Canisius jumped out to a two-goal lead.

For the second straight game, the Golden Griffins couldn't hold on.

Despite going up two goals, the Griffs dropped a 3-2 decision to Air Force at the Cadet Ice Arena in Colorodo, Friday night.

Down the road in Denver, Niagara fell to No. 17 Denver, 5-1.

At Cadet Ice Arena, the Griffs built the lead early in the second. Cody Freeman scored at the 2:47 mark while Ralph Cuddemi netted a power play tally at 4:30. Ben Danford picked up assists on both goals. 

But when Air Force struck back, they did so quickly. The Falcons scored three goals in a 2:28 span to take a 3-2 lead.

It was similar to the season-opening loss for the Griffs at Niagara, where they took leads of 3-0 and 4-1 before losing 6-4.

"Good teams raise their level when down a goal. Really good teams raise their level when they're up a couple goals," Canisius coach Dave Smith said. "As far as a message to our team, we played the two top teams in the league and we got outworked when we had a lead.

"I was really disappointed that once we were up 2-0, we stopped working the same way. You've got to give Air Force ... but we needed some of our experienced guys to make experienced plays. The blame goes to everybody but some guys we need to lead better by effort." 

The Griffs couldn't come up with the late-game magic they've enjoyed at Cadet Ice Arena. Canisius had scored nine goals in the last three minutes of regulation and overtime in its last nine games at Air Force. But Friday, they managed just eight shots in the final 30 minutes.

The Falcons (2-2-0, 1-0-0 AH) held a 35-22 advantage in shots.

Kyle Gibbons picked up an assist on the first Canisius goal, giving up a point in 12 straight games dating back to last season. That's the longest point streak by a Griff since Cory Conacher had a 12-game streak in the 2009-10 season.

The Griffs (0-2-0) play their first non-conference game Saturday at No. 17 Denver at 9:07 p.m.

The Pioneers (3-2-0) scored three second-period goals to earn the 5-1 win over Niagara.

Denver scored two quick power play goals in the first, but the Purple Eagles
pulled within 2-1 when Stephen Pietrobon scored at 15:39 with assists to Matt
Chiaranto and Ryan Rashid.

Three goals in the second, including another power play tally, gave the Pioneers a comfortable lead. Denver went 3-for-6 on the power play  while holding a 34-22 advantage in shots.

Niagara went 0-for-7 on the power play.

Jackson Teichroeb recorded 29 saves for Niagara (1-3-1). The Purple Eagles have Saturday off and will play Air Force in an Atlantic Hockey matchup Sunday at 6:05.

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