by Amy Moritz
Welcome to the second half of the college hockey season.
While Niagara remains off until next weekend, Canisius is back in action, finishing up its non-conference schedule at the Catamount Cup. The Golden Griffins will play No. 10 UMass-Lowell at 4 p.m. today and host Vermont Sunday at 7 p.m.
When last we saw the Ice Griffs, they were putting together their most puzzling weekend of the year. After a relentless 8-2 win over Army the Griffs were flat in a 2-0 loss to the Black Knights, entering their three-week holiday break on a less than happy note.
“After the game at Army, we spent a lot of time talking with the guys about how we insure that we’re controlling our own destiny rather than having someone else dictate the way the game is being played,” Canisius coach Dave Smith. We’ll know in a month of we learned the lessons from that day.”
In that game, Canisius lost forward Matthew Grazen after a hit from Shane Hearn. Hearn was suspended by Atlantic Hockey for one game while Grazen will not play this weekend as he still is recovering from a knee injury. While the league has been consistent this year with its suspensions -- one game for illegal, dangerous or injurious hits -- it is completely different from last year. Recall that last season, Grazen was given a seven-game suspension (as a first time offender) for a hit-from-behind against Air Force. At the time, Atlantic Hockey officials said they took the severity of the injury to the player in consideration when dishing out the suspension.
Consider that Shane Conacher had his jaw broken and missed the first half of the season from an illegal hit and Grazen will miss at least two games, maybe more, while both their offenders received only one-game suspensions. Just saying.
Meanwhile, it's a big tournament weekend in college hockey. A few things to take note of:
- The Great Lakes Invitational kicked off Friday at Comerica Park in Detroit as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival in conjunction with the Winter Classic. Michigan Tech is the defending champion. Michigan Tech is also the alma mater of Buffalo Sabres' forward John Scott who scored his second career goal in 200 games in Toronto last night.
- The Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh kicked off last night with Penn State beating Atlantic Hockey's Robert Morris, 3-2. Penn State scored twice in the third, including the game-winner with 1:40 left in regulation, to advance to today's championship against Boston College. The Colonials will play Bowling Green in the consolation at 4:30 today.
- In other outdoor notes, Atlantic Hockey takes center stage in Boston as Bentley and Holy Cross faceoff at Frozen Fenway at 6:30 today. Bentley is one of the hottest teams in the league, going 7-1-1 in its last nine games.