It’s a downtown Buffalo doubleheader hockey weekend. With the Sabres playing at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in First Niagara Center, Canisius hosts Holy Cross at HarborCenter at 4 p.m.
It’s the Atlantic Hockey opener for both the Golden Griffins and Holy Cross. The Ice Griffs are 0-2 coming off losses to Penn State and Bowling Green.
Here are three things to watch for in this weekend’s series:
1. Secondary scoring. Senior captain Ralph Cuddemi is off to a hot start with three points in two games while partner in crime Shane Conacher notched his first goal of the season against Bowling Green. The duo along with sophomore Ryan Schmelzer continue to be a dynamic line for the Griffs. They need to continue to cash in on their opportunities, but scoring needs to come from somewhere other than the top line. With new players and some returners in new roles, can the Griffs find some offensive depth to start conference play?
2. Goaltending. Sophomore Reilly Turner had a much better game against Bowling Green not just in stopping pucks but making smart plays from the net. Every bit of confidence gained will help him trust his skill and instincts. Meanwhile in the other net Williamsville native Paul Berrafato has played two games for the Crusaders with a 3.76 goals against average and an .855 save percentage.
3. Learning lessons. Both Canisius and Holy Cross started the season with strong non-conference opponents. The Griffs lost their opener to Penn State but played markedly better against No. 12 Bowling Green. Holy Cross is 0-3 but put up strong performances against No. 18 Quinnipiac and No. 2 Providence. Which team can apply the lessons from losing while maintaining an attacking attitude the best? That’s the one which will likely come out of the weekend with at least three points.