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10 things to know as college hockey season opens in WNY

College hockey season has already begun for Niagara and Canisius will open its regular season on Friday. Buffalo State's men's and women's teams are preparing for another playoff-run while Erie Community College is finding its way without the NJCAA sponsoring a hockey championship.

Here's what you need to know:

1. A new era, new results at Niagara. The Purple Eagles are already two games into the season and for the first time in three years, they have a win in October. After losing on the road to Colgate, Niagara won its home opener in Dwyer Arena, 4-3  in overcome over Robert Morris. That gave first-year coach Jason Lammers his first win. It was the first time Niagara has won a home opener in 10 years. The last time Niagara picked up a win in October was 2013 when the Purps beat rival Canisius, 6-4, on Oct. 12.

2. Tanner Lomsnes is off to a strong start. The Niagara junior scored his first game-winning goal, getting the overtime tally against Robert Morris. Lomsnes also picked up an assist for his third multi-point game of his career.

3. Early honors, and early suspension. First the good news for Niagara: freshman Eric Cooley was named Atlantic Hockey's Rookie of the week after picking up his first collegiate assist. The forward also finished plus-1 on the night.

But Cooley will not be able to play in Niagara's next game, which comes Oct. 20 when the Purple Eagles host Rensselaer. He was given a one-game suspension after the league reviewed an interference penalty he received in the win over Robert Morris. "After reviewing the hit, it was determined that the call should have been an interference major due to the level of significant contact that was made on a vulnerable player," Atlantic Hockey said in the press release.

4. Canisius opens a new era. The Golden Griffins will raise their banner for winning Atlantic Hockey's regular season championship last year before Friday's 7:35 p.m. game against Robert Morris in HarborCenter. It will be the first game as the Griffs coach for Trevor Large.

5. Who will be the Griffs goalie? That is the question and one of the reasons why the Griffs were picked fifth in the preseason conference poll. Gone is Charles Williams, the fifth-year senior who set Canisius records and backstopped the Griffs to the regular season title in his one season with the team. In their exhibition game, Canisius gave one period each to three goaltenders -- Daniel Urbani, Blake Weyrick, and Simon Hofley.

6. Canisius returns a  lot of talent. The Griffs return their top nine point producers from last season, led by junior Dylan McLaughlin (33 points, 14 goals) and senior captain Ryan Schmelzer (30 points, 12 goals). Schmelzer was an All-Atlantic Hockey second team selection and voted the league's top defensive forward. Junior Cameron Heath, who also was a second-team selection and Co-Defenseman of the Year, led the Griffs defenders in goals (seven) and points (18).

7. It's the 15th season of Atlantic Hockey. The league began in the 2003-04 season after the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference got out of the hockey business. The conference made its second biggest change in 2010 adding Niagara, Robert Morris, Air Force, and Army West Point after College Hockey America folded.

8. Buffalo State men return another strong squad. The Bengals went 18-8-1 last year, losing in the SUNYAC semifinals to Geneseo. Although Goalie of the Year and third-team All-America selection Mike DeLaVergne graduated, the team returns some top offense. Anthony Passero is back after leading the team with 29 points (nine goals, 20 assists) as a freshman. Senior defenseman Brody Power earned second team All-SUNYAC honors last season, putting up 16 points (one goal, 15 assists) in 26 games. Buffalo State opens at  home Oct. 28 hosting Nichols College.

9. Wilson takes over Buffalo State's women's team. Jennifer Wilson was named the fourth coach of the Bengals. She takes over a program that soared under Candice Moxley, going to the postseason four straight seasons and posting a 35-16-2 record over the last two. Last year, the Bengals won their first playoff game ever. The team will be part of the new Northeast Women's Hockey League. They open the season Oct. 27 at Morrisville State.

10. ECC continues its hockey tradition. Last year was the swan song for hockey in the National Junior College Athletic Association. The organization will no longer sponsor a championship in hockey after it was left with just five schools sponsoring the sport. The Kats were national runners-up for the second straight year, going 21-5-1 overall. This year, ECC moved into the American College Hockey Association (ACHA) and will play in the Division II as part of the Southeast Division. The league is made up largely of club teams from NCAA Division I and III schools.

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