American International at Canisius
7:35 p.m., Friday, 4:05 p.m. Saturday
1. American International is on the rise. The results have not always been great for the Yellow Jackets. The program has consistently been in the bottom third of the Atlantic Hockey standings for years. But first-year head coach Eric Lang is changing the culture and the team is off to a 2-2-3 start in conference play. A former player for AIC, he most recently was an assistant coach at Army West Point where he learned the value of high standards.
“We don’t have measurable objectives right now,” Lang said. “We talk in terms of playing the game and our standard. As coaches, we don’t lower the bar. We have to constantly raise the bar and players have to meet our expectations, meet the standard. We’re really pushing this group and my time at Army taught me that everybody has a little more to give.”
2. Canisius is having trouble scoring goals. The Griffs rank second-last in the country in goals per game, netting an average of 1.58 through 12 games. Only Alaska Anchorage is averaging fewer at 1.20 goals per game. Freshman defenseman Matt Stief and sophomore forward Felix Chamberland are tied for the team lead in points with six while freshman forward Nick Hutchison leads the team with four goals.
3. Defense is the saving grace for Canisius. The Griffs are giving up 2.83 goals a game, which ranks tied for 24th. Much of that is thanks to senior transfer goaltender Charles Williams, who ranks fifth nationally in save percentage (.937). Good thing since Canisius is averaging the second most shots against in the country at 38.33 per game.
4. Young players lead the way for AIC. The top four scorers for the Yellow Jackets are all underclassmen, led by freshman forward Dominik Florian with five goals and nine points.
5. Atlantic Hockey is still a tight race. AIC is very much in the mix for the upper third in Atlantic Hockey. Canisius, which dropped both games at league-leader Army West Point last weekend, is 3-2-1 in league play.