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Canisius' defense is stingy through opening five hockey games

Finding offense is going to be a challenge for Canisius. The Golden Griffins' defense is in fine form, however.

Canisius throttled Air Force for much of the teams' Atlantic Hockey opener Thursday, holding the defending champs to just one goal in a 1-1 tie.

"They capitalized on their best chance of the night," Canisius coach Dave Smith said. "I’m happy from Capo on out."

"Capo" is goaltender Tony Capobianco, who is looking for his first win (0-3-1) despite a 1.98 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.

"He’s very comfortable, very calm," Smith said of the junior goaltender from Mississauga, Ont. "We worked hard in the previous two years to get him ready for this time because he was a championship goalie in junior hockey, and we knew this time would come. Right now it looks like he’s capitalizing on his opportunity."

The Griffs have allowed only nine goals through their five games, with just two coming on the power play. Canisius' penalty killers are 24 for 26.

"They’ve been playing tough defense," Smith said. "We’ve been giving ourselves a chance because of goaltending, good defense and good penalty kill."

Canisius, though, is averaging just one goal per game. If the offense can catch up to the defense, the squad can improve its 1-3-1 record.

"We’re learning how to score, and it’s really experience," Smith said. "It’s just taking the next step. We had 20 freshmen and sophomores to start the year last year. It’s no different than a rookie stepping into the National Hockey League. It takes some time to learn the places, learn the spaces."

---John Vogl

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Bob Dicesare

Bob DiCesare

Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.

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Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

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