Atlantic Hockey Tournament
Blue Cross Arena, Rochester
No. 1 Robert Morris vs. No. 5 Mercyhurst, 5:05 p.m.
No. 2 Canisius vs. No. 3 RIT, 1 hour after conclusion of first game
Tickets: $16 adults, $12 students
TV: Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
Canisius scout: Defense has carried the Griffs (18-11-7) back to the conference’ final four. Since Christmas, senior goalie Keegan Asmundson has the second best save percentage in the country (.946) and the best over the last month (.964). His 1.96 goals against average is on pace to set the program’s’ single-season record. Junior Ralph Cuddemi is the team’s leading goal scorer with 22 goals. His 37 goals over the past two seasons is the seventh most in the country.
Canisius intangibles: This is the third straight semifinals for the Griffs and experience is a key factor. While Asmundson and the top line of Cuddemi, Shane Conacher and Ryan Schmelzer are the headline grabbers, Canisius is at its finest when it plays a complete team game. They’ve experienced just about everything a postseason can throw at them – good and bad – and have the composure to weather a plethora of situations.
RIT scout: The Tigers (17-14-5) enter the semifinals on a five-game winnings streak anchored by one of the most dynamic lines in college hockey. Atlantic Hockey Player of the Year Matt Garbowsky is tied for the national lead with 26 goals and is just the second player in RIT’s Division I history to reach 50 points in a season. Garbowsky along with Josh Mitchell and Brad McGown are the second-highest scoring line in the nation with 138 points. Freshman defenseman Brady Norrish has been a key blue line contributor with 20 points.
RIT intangibles: Blue Cross Arena will have the feel of a home game for RIT, not just because of proximity but because the Tigers play a regular-season series at the facility each year. This is the Tigers first trip to the semifinals since 2012 and the senior class, led by Garbowsky, wants to put a stamp on the season.
Keys to the game: Canisius needs to shoot more. A lot more. Over their last three games they’ve averaged just 13.67 shots on goal and in their quarterfinal series against Sacred Heart did not get a shot on the power play. RIT has to find an answer for Asmundson and the Griffs’ team defense which has been gritty and solid. The Tigers would benefit from secondary scoring.