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Atlantic Hockey road tilts for Canisius, Niagara this weekend

by Amy Moritz

It's a big conference weekend for Niagara and Canisius with both teams on the road for Atlantic Hockey matchups.

The Golden Griffins, coming off a three-point weekend against UConn, are in West Point to face Army for two games (7 p.m. tonight and Saturday).

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Tony Capobianco (gogriffs.com)

Senior goaltender Tony Capobianco has regained his form from last year after a slow start. In his last four games, he has a 1.72 goals against average and a .945 save percentage. In his first four games, he had a 4.79 goals against average and a .879 save percentage.

The rest of the senior class is stepping up as well. Kyle Gibbons is now two goals shy of 50 for his career while Ben Danford has a team-best eight assists.

"We have a veteran team so it's not as much about Xs and Os as it is about role acceptance and putting team first," Canisius coach Dave Smith said. "Everyone wants success and those things seem to be coming together nicely. We'll have a challenge in West Point. We know what Army is capable of physically and we've got to be on the top of our game."

The Black Knights are 2-7-0 in Atlantic Hockey with its last game a 4-3 overtime win over American International.

Niagara meanwhile travels to Connecticut for games with the Huskies tonight (7 p.m.) and Saturday (4 p.m.).

The Purple Eagles are still looking for their first road win of the season. They're coming off a 4-2 loss at No. 15 Cornell, where coach Dave Burkholder felt his team played its best game of the season.

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Jackson Teichroeb (buffalonews.com)

Freshmen goaltenders Jackson Teichroeb and Adrian Ignagni  have been battling for the No. 1 spot. (For the record, Burkholder said neither one has emerged yet as the top goalie.) And the Purps biggest weakness has been its defense.

"We’ve been working and we’ve gotten a lot better with our D-zone coverage, but it’s actually been our backchecking that's the problem," Burkholder said. "We’ll have freeze frames on video where we have five Niagara players in the picture and the other team is still making plays through our five guys. So we’re back, which is great. It shows a strong work ethic, but we’re not playing smart. That's been an issue with us and we think we’ve gotten a lot better."

UConn, in its last season with Atlantic Hockey before moving to Hockey East, is tied with Niagara and Canisius for fourth place in the conference standings. All three teams have seven points.

Gritty work pays off for Rigney

by Amy Moritz

It's easy to pick out the usual suspects of offensive performance. But what helps a team win is when they get scoring from the unusual sources.

Enter junior forward Braeden Rigney for the Canisius hockey team.

Last season, he had five points (one goal, four assists) in 24 games for the Golden Griffins.

This season he already has five points, in his last five games, including the game-winning goal Friday night in the Ice Griffs 3-1 win over Connecticut.

What's been the difference in his offense this year?

"More just focusing on trying to do something down in their end rather than just getting off the ice," Rigney said. "Moving my feet and my linemates obviously make it a hell of lot easier."

Rigney played on the left wing with Matthew Grazen and Patrick Sullivan, assisting on the first goal of the game recorded by Sullivan just 122 seconds into the game.

“It’s fun when guys like Rigney and Sullivan score,” head coach Dave Smith said. “Those are blood and guts guys. Those are grunt guys who really bring the physical and mental effort.”

Check out the video highlights of the game including the goals by Rigney and Sullivan, some of the prettier goals we've seen this year.

The teams meet again at 4 p.m. today at Buffalo State Ice Arena.

 

Capobianco headed to Wild Development Camp

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

When he begins his senior year at Canisius, Tony Capobianco will have a great answer to the question, "What did you do on your summer vacation?"

The goaltender was invited to participate in the Minnesota Wild Development camp this week.

Capobianco was named the most valuable player for the Golden Griffins after leading the team to the Atlantic Hockey Tournament Championship and the program's first ever NCAA tournament bid. He set four school records during the season -- saves (1,256), save percentage (.929), wins (18) and shutouts (four).

Capobianco is one of seven collegiate players invited to the Wild's development camp at the Xcel Energy Center. The camp, which includes 36 players, focuses on developing the organization's top prospect.

Back in 2008, Canisius forward Vincent Scarsella participated in development camp with the Buffalo Sabres.

 

UB ponders adding hockey

UB athletics issued the following statement from AD Warde Manuel this afternoon:

“The University at Buffalo athletic department has been in conversations with established Division I hockey conferences to examine the possibility of returning our hockey program. While we are flattered to have these discussions there are several things that would need to occur both fiscally and within conference alignments for this to work for UB at this time.”

That's a bit of a shocker unless a sizable donation has come in to fund  such a high-expense program. It's been Manuel's mission to build a multi-purpose field house adjacent to UB Stadium, and this would seem to further delay that objective. If UB wants to add to its array of sports men's volleyball would be the way to go. Far less expense, excellent on-campus facility, extraordinary local recruiting pool and a chance to contender for a national title in quick order.

-- Bob DiCesare

 

 

Live blog: Canisius-Niagara men's hockey

The first of three regular season meetings between Canisius and Niagara begins in about 15 minutes at the Buffalo State Ice Arena.

This will also mark the first time the teams are playing each other as members of the same Division I conference as Niagara joined Atlantic Hockey this season.

The rivalry began in 1997 with Niagara holding a 12-6-1 advantage in the all-time series and a 8-5-1 edge in the Division I era.

While Niagara is just 1-3-2 to stat the season, its power play has been impressive. Canisius (4-2-1) has suffered from slow first period starts but has dominated the third period.

Keys to the game will include special teams, the first 10 minutes of the game and the energy level of the third period. Since both teams played back-to-back home games Friday and Saturday, conditioning could come into play.

Check back for updates throughout the game.

First period: First strike goes to Canisius, just 1:21 into the game. Eric Rex scored on a 2-on-1 from Jordan Mustard. Rex, a senior, now has six points, already matching his career high for points in a season.

15:11 And we have our first controversy in the game. On another aggressive Canisius offensive attack, the goal light came on, but officials on the ice blew the whistle and discussed the play amongst themselves and with the goal judge. After consultation, freshman defender Ben Danford netted his first career goal for a 2-0 lead for the Golden Griffins.

10:21 Niagara is starting to control the flow of play and enjoyed an extended period in the Canisius zone. The Purple Eagles hit a goal post and earned their second power play of the game.

9:46 Niagara makes it 2-1, getting on the board with a PP goal on a rebound in front of Dan Morrison. As it stands now, Giancarlo Iuorio gets credit for the goal.

3:47 Converting a 3-on-1, Niagara's Paul Zanette put home another rebound to tie the game, 2-2.

End of the first: Tied, 2-2. Niagara went 1-for-4 on power play opportunities which in part helped them have a 20-4 advantage in shots. Morrison has kept the Griffs in the game with some key saves as the fast start for the Canisius offense subsided with penalty trouble. Niagara starts the second with 50 seconds left on the PP.

Second period: 

10:54 A short-handed goal by Canisius gives the Griffs a 3-2 lead. Niagara had a turnover in its own zone and Eric Rex recovered the puck, fed it to Scott Moser for the go-ahead goal.

6:45 A streaking Scott Arnold cleanly beat Morrison as Niagara ties the game, 3-3.

End of the second: Tied, 3-3. Shots were more even this period, with Niagara holding just a 7-6 edge. Canisius had two power play opportunities, but generated just one shot and few solid scoring chances.

Third period:

14:00: With one second left on the power play Bryan Haczyk scored to give Niagara it's first lead of the game at 4-3.

8:34: Ryan Rashid nets a goal to give Niagara a 5-3 lead. There's lots of game left, especially the way Canisius can play in the third period, but the Purple Eagles seem to have seized the momentum and silenced the thundersticks in the crowd.

Final minute: Torrey Lindsay scored with 44 seconds left and Scott Jenks with 17 seconds left to tie the game, 5-5.

These games are never dull. Headed to overtime.

Final: With 36 seconds left in overtime, Paul Zanette scored a shorthanded goal to give Niagara a 6-5 win.

--- Amy Moritz

Monday college honor roll

Another round of player of the week honors came to Canisius, Niagara and Erie Community College.

To summarize the weekly awards announced on Monday:

Men's Hockey: Niagara freshman goalie Carsen Chubak was the Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Week after his collegiate debut in a 2-2 tie with UMass-Lowell on Friday. Chubak made 39 saves, including 20 saves while the Purple Eagles were outshot, 21-7, in the third period and overtime.

Women's Soccer: Canisius freshman Brianna Smith earned Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week honors while Niagara's Ashleigh Bowers was the conference's Defensive Player of the Week.

Smith had a goal on Friday when the Golden Griffins defeated nationally-ranked Siena. She is tied for the team-lead in goals (8) and ranks second in points (20). This is her second rookie of the week honor.

Bowers recorded two shutouts in wins over Marist and Siena. She has six shutouts on the season and a 0.67 goals against average while her 0.88 save percentage ranks 11th nationally.

D'Youville sophomore Danielle Braun (Iroquois) was named the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Player of the Week after scoring five goals with two assists in three wins. Braun holds the school record for single-season points (34) and single-season game-winning goals (3).

Men's soccer: After scoring his second career hat-trick in a win over Manhattan, Niagara's Carl Haworth was named the MAAC Offensive Player of the Week. Haworth leads the Purple Eagles and ranks second in the conference in goals (9) while his 22 points leads the MAAC and ranks sixth nationally.

Hilbert junior Ed Heffron (O'Hara) was the AMCC Defensive Player of the Week, as he picked up an asisst and helped hold opponents to one goal in a pair of conference wins.

Cross country: After a third-place finish at the 5K UAlbany Invitational, Canisius senior Maura Frauenhofer earned her third MAAC runner of the week honor. Frauenhofer ran a 17:41 on Friday to earn her third top-10 overall finish this year.

For the fourth time this season, D'Youville senior Anya Bogdanets (Kenmore West) earned Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference runner of the week honors. Bogdanets placed first out of 103 runners at the CCOC Championships, setting a Seneca Lake State Park 5K course record in 19:08.85. It was her third win of the season.

Football: A career-high 168 yards and one touchdown earned Erie Community College running back Zedric Joseph the Northeast Football Conference co-offensive player of the week award. Joseph had a 26-yard TD run for the Kats, who lost, 17-14, to Dean on Saturday. Over the last two games, he has gained 293 yards on the ground.

--- Amy Moritz

Canisius knocks off No. 25 Siena

There's something about overtime that just doesn't faze the Canisius women's soccer team.

Facing No. 25-ranked Siena in the second extra period, Williamsville's Jenny Griffin scored to give Canisius a 3-2 win at the Demske Sports Complex Friday night.

The Golden Griffins are now 5-0-0 in overtime games this season. They also improved to 5-0-0 at home and 3-1-0 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Siena (12-1-0, 4-1-0) had entered the game undefeated with a national buzz, ranked No. 25 in the Soccer America Top 25. The Saints took a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute.

Canisius tied the game on a goal by Caroline Robert in the 46th minute then took a 2-1 lead from Brianna Smith in the 83rd minute. But the Saints tied the game in the 85th, sending the game to overtime.

That's when Griffin came through with her goal.

"I really can't believe I just scored there," the junior forward saig. "I'm not sure how the ball even got to me, it was loose in the box and I just put it on net. It wasn't the best shot I've ever taken, but it bounced once and skipped on the turf right past their goalkeeper in it ended up in the back of the net."

"I think this is a fantastic win for the girls and for this program," Canisius coach Jim Wendling said. "Siena is a good team and they outshot us and had more corner kicks than us, but we played hard and kept working until the end. This is a step in the right direction and it shows everyone on this team that we're talented enough to play and really compete with a top-25 team in the country."

The Griffs host Marist at 1 p.m., Sunday. 

Niagara women's soccer upends Marist: The Purple Eagles pulled their own upset at Niagara Field, handing Marist (4-1-0) its first conference loss of the season.

Freshman forward Kayla Picanco scored in the first half to give Niagara a 1-0 lead. The win evens the team's MAAC record at 2-2-0.

"I thought we played a very good first half and I was really proud of the effort," Niagara coach Peter Veltri said. "We created a lot of opportunities, scored one and could have scored another two. We did enough to earn the victory and I thought in the second half we showed a lot of heart to hold on to the lead. The win was very important if we want to make it to the (MAAC) Tournament."

Playoff hopes dwindle for Bona women's soccer: The chance at an Atlantic 10 tournament berth are slipping away from St. Bonaventure after a 2-1 OT loss to LaSalle at McGraw-Jennings Field -- its first home loss of the season.

Bona dropped to 1-3 in the A-10, putting them in the bottom third of congested conference standings. Only the top six teams qualify for the A-10 Championships, scheduled for Nov. 2-7 in Kingston, R.I.

"I thought we dominated for long stretches of the game and created a lot of really good chances," Bona coach Manoj Khettry said. "It's an incredibly disappointing loss ... because I thought we played really well. We've really dug ourselves into a hole and we have to fight to stay alive for an A-10 tournament spot."

The Bonnies host Fordham at 1 p.m., Sunday.

Another tie for Niagara men's hockey: They get a lead, give it up, and settle for a tie. At least that's the pattern for the two games of the season for the Purple Eagles.

This time, it was a 2-1 third period lead that ended up in a 2-2 tie for Niagara with UMass-Lowell.

Freshman goalie Carsen Chubak made 39 saves in his collegiate debut. He salvaged the tie for the Purple Eagles as UMass-Lowell held a 21-7 advantage in shots through the third period and overtime.

"Chubak helped shut the door in overtime," Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. "He was very strong for us and gave us confidence."

Scoreless streak ends for UB women: A pair of goals in the first half ended a 409 minute, 53 second scoreless stretch for the University at Buffalo women's soccer team. Still the Bulls (1-12-2, 0-5-2 MAC) remained winless in conference play as Ball State scored twice in the second for a 2-2 tie.

The Bulls host Mid-American Conference leader Toledo at noon on Sunday.

--- Amy Moritz

 

Votes for Canisius hockey

A solid opening weekend for the Canisius men's hockey program was followed up with an impressive honor on Monday.

The Golden Griffins went 1-1 at Western Michigan which impressed enough folks in the USCHO.com poll to give them some votes. Monday, the Griffs received 10 points. It's only the second time in school history that the program earned votes in the national poll -- the last time being after opening weekend in 2009-10 when it received one vote.

The win over Western Michigan on Friday gives Canisius a win over a CCHA school for the third straigth season.

In both games, the Griffs rallied from a two-goal deficit at the end of the first period. Friday night, the team rebounded to win -- the first time Canisius has done that since Feb. 20, 2009. Last year, the Griffs were 0-11-3 when trailing after one period.

Saturday, the Griffs rallied from a 2-0 first period deficit, but lost in overtime, 3-2.

Canisius next plays at Mercyhurst, Tuesday, Oct. 19.

--- Amy Moritz

 

Busy day for local schools

Western New York colleges had a full day of athletic activity, offering impressive performances and big wins.

Ongoing highlights from Saturday:

Bogdanets lowers D'Youville record:  Anya Bogdanets (Kenmore West) lowered her own D'Youville cross country record for a 5K course with a time of 19:06.93 at the Carnegie-Mellon Invitational. Bogdanets placed sixth in the 260-runner field while the Spartans were 17th out of 24 teams.

Bengals push streak to nine: A goal off a free kick by Tina Boberskyj in overtime to gave Buffalo State a 2-1 win over Cortland. With the win, the Bengals improved to 8-3-2 overall, 4-0-1 in SUNYAC play and stretched their school-record unbeaten streak to nine games.
    Jessica Andres opened the scoring with a 30-yard strike in the first half. Cortland evened the game in the 75th minute as goalkeeper Virginia Porten rcorded four saves.

ECC men win again:  The Erie Community College men's soccer team won its ninth game of the season when Pablo Ordonez (Cheektowaga) scored the game-winner with eight minutes remaining for a 3-2 decision over Mercyhurst North East. Ordonez scored twice for ECC while Craig Raines netted the first goal in the 25th minute.
    The Kats improved to 9-3 overall. The last the time the program had nine wins was in 2006.

Buffalo State and ECC get football wins: The Bengals (1-4) set several school records in a 71-3 win at Western Connecticut State while Erie Community College (2-4) upset Lackawanna, which had been receiving votes in the NJCAA poll, 39-32. Details in Sunday's edition of The Buffalo News.

Niagara and Canisius tie for first in MAAC volleyball: Showdown weekend started with wins for Canisius and Niagara over Fairfield and Iona, respectively. The two teams are now tied for first in the MAAC with 6-1 marks. They switch opponnets for 2 p.m. matches on Sunday.

Niagara women's hockey picks up shoot-out win: It took the sixth player in a shootout for Niagara to pick up its first win of the season at Minnesota State. Freshman Chelsea Witwicke scored then Jenni Bauer made the final stop to give the Purple Eagles (1-3-0) the win after the teams played to a 0-0 tie. Bauer recorded 33 saves as Minnesota State held a 33-19 advantage in shots.

Buffalo ends losing skid: They went to five sets but the University at Buffalo women's volleyball team finally ended it's four-match losing streak with a win over Ball State. Kristin Bignell and Marisa Hornbaker each had 10 kills for the Bulls (14-8, 2-4 Mid-American Conference) while Heather Pyle had 24 digs.
    The teams traded the first four sets before the Bulls pulled out the fifth, 15-13.

Niagara upends Canisius in women's soccer: In the first meeting of the rivals in the "Battle of the Bridge" competition, Niagara earned a 2-1 win thanks to a goal by Erin Baker in the 77th minute. It was the first MAAC win for Niagara (1-2) and first MAAC loss for Canisius (2-1) but Griffs coach Jim Wendling remains pleased with his team.
    "I thought it was our best effort all season," Wendling said. "We controlled play and were very aggressive offensivly. It's obviously not the result we wanted but we are very excited about our performance moving forward."
 

--- Amy Moritz
    

Canisius hockey grabs win

It was a productive Friday night for Canisius athletics as the Golden Griffins scored key wins in men's hockey and men's soccer.

The Griffs opened the hockey season with a 5-3 win at Western Michigan thanks to senior Cory Conacher's hat trick. It was the second of his career and 11th in the Division I era for Canisius. Classmate and linemate Vincent Scarsella picked up three assists to move him to 101 career points. That makes him the seventh player to reach the 100-point plateau in the Griffs D-I history.

Canisius is now 3-12-3 all-time against teams in the CCHA and 3-6-1 in season openers over the last 10 seasons.

The teams meet again at 7:35 p.m. Saturday.

Meanwhile back in Buffalo, the Griffs men's soccer team was picking up its first win of the season and at a oportune time -- for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opener.

Sophomore midfielder Steve Mahon scored his first collegiate goal in the 17th mintue and sophomore Kareem Gray made eight saves to earn his first career shutout in  1-0 win over Fairfield at Demske Sports Complex.

The stops an eight-game losing streak as Canisius went 0-7-1 in its non-conference schedule.

"Everything we have worked on this year was to get to this point in the season," Canisius coach Jim Hesch said. "We had a great week of training and out team is starting to come together as a group."

For Niagara, its men's soccer team also opened the MAAC season with a win, getting a 2-1 edge over Iona. Junior forward Liam Gilbert scored the game-winner in the 65th minute as the Purple Eagles improved to 3-6-1 overall.

“It was great to start the conference season with a win against a very good team,” Niagara coach Dermot McGrane said. “I thought our boys showed a lot of character and determination tonight and deserved the win.”

Both men's soccer teams play again on Sunday with Niagara hosting Fairfield at 1 p.m. and Canisius hosting Iona at noon.

--- Amy Moritz 

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About Campus Watch

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.

@TBNDicesare | [email protected]


Rodney McKissic

Rodney McKissic

Rodney McKissic began his journalism career in 1989 after graduating from the University of Cincinnati and has worked for The Buffalo News since 2001. A proud father of four children, he enjoys reading in his spare time.

@RodneyMcKissic | [email protected]


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.

@amymoritz | [email protected]

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