How’s this for a season opener – Penn State in HarborCenter.
Canisius College will host the Nittany Lions on Saturday, Oct. 10 to open the 2015-16 season which will have the Golden Griffins playing their first four regular season games at home.
After an exhibition against Ontario Institute of Technology on Oct. 4, the Griffs will host Penn State for a single-game weekend. The Nittany Lions, entering their fourth season in NCAA Division I, went 18-15-4 overall last year, placing fifth in the Big Ten.
The Griffs then host Bowling Green for one game on Friday, Oct. 16. Fun fact: Bowling Green is where new Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma played his college hockey from 1988-92. Last year, the Falcons went 23-11-5.
The Griffs will face another Big Ten challenge when they travel to Columbus for a two-game series with Ohio State, Nov. 13-14. The teams opened HarborCenter last year, playing to a tie before the Buckeyes earned a 4-1 win.
Merrimack closes out the non-conference schedule for the Griffs with a split home-and-home series. The Warriors of Hockey East visit Buffalo on Sunday, Nov. 7 and the teams will play in North Andover, Mass., on Dec. 10.
The beginning of the season will challenge the Griffs, particularly games against Penn State and Bowling Green. While Canisius returns a strong offensive attack, led by senior Ralph Cuddemi and junior Shane Conacher, the overall makeup of the roster will be heavy on sophomores and freshmen. One-game weekends (when the norm is two) can help in the experience department without foresaking morale. The split home-and-home with Merrimack is unique and will give the Griffs an opportunity to see how much they’ve grown through the first semester against a Hockey East team.
Meanwhile Atlantic Hockey once again did the schools in the league no favors. The same schedule set-up from last year continues. That means Canisius will only play Niagara and RIT one weekend. The Griffs and Purple Eagles clash at HarborCenter for the first time Jan. 14 and Jan. 16. Canisius makes its first visit to the Polessini Center to face defending champ RIT Jan. 8-9.
The league again missed an opportunity to capitalized on regional rivalries which can grow not only the sport of college hockey but the brand of Atlantic Hockey.
There are number of afternoon games for the Griffs this year to avoid direct time conflicts with Sabres home games. … The official name of the U.S. Military Academy for athletic purposes is now Army West Point. … The Atlantic Hockey tournament format remains the same with a best-of-three first round and quarterfinal round with a final four single elimination March 18-19 at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.