BUFFALO, N.Y. – For the second straight night, the Sacred Heart men's hockey team was held scoreless as the Canisius Golden Griffins won 5-0 Saturday night at Buffalo State Sports Arena to sweep the first round Atlantic Hockey Tournament series between the two teams.
Sacred Heart (12-24-0) came out firing early Saturday night, putting the first five shots of the game on goal. The Pioneers went on the power play 2:32 into the game and had two shots on goal, highlighted by a Drew George (Regina, Sask.) blast from the blue line that was stopped by Golden Griffins' goalie Tony Capobianco. Canisius (14-19-3) had its first shot of the game with 15:00 left when Shane Conacher fired a shot from the left wing that was stopped by Alex Vazzano (Trumbull, Conn.). Vazzano then had to stop Mitch McCrank's rebound attempt.
The two teams traded power plays midway through the opening period, but neither team could score with the man advantage. Jacob Brightbill (Anneville, Pa.) had a chance to get the Pioneers on the board with 10:22 left in the period, but Capobianco made a pad save. However, Capobianco gave up a big rebound that Ben Lake (Calgary, Alb.) pounced on but the goalie stopped. Canisius then took the 1-0 lead with 6:37 left in the first. Ralph Cuddemi broke out into the zone as Sacred Heart made a line change and fired a shot off of Vazzano's glove that popped up into the air and into the net. The Pioneers went on their third power play of the period with 4:14 to play but managed just one shot as Canisius was able to take a one-goal lead into intermission.
Sacred Heart grew some momentum early in the second period, killing a Canisius power play. The Pioneers then went on the power play with 16:12 remaining, but it was the Golden Griffins that scored shorthanded to make the score 2-0. Cody Freeman forced a turnover at the Sacred Heart blueline, skated right on net and scored with 15:02 to play in the period to put the Golden Griffins up by two. Sacred Heart had two shots on that power play but didn't pull to within one goal.
Canisius extended its lead to 3-0 with 8:27 to play in the second as Braeden Rigney pulled a loose puck from the side of the goal to his forehand, scoring right inside Vazzano's blocker post. Brightbill had an opportunity to get Sacred Heart within two with 3:19 left in the middle frame but had two shots stopped by Capobianco. The Pioneers outshot Canisius 13-9 in the third period, but the Golden Griffins got two goals from Freeman, who finished off his hat trick with 5:35 remaining in the game as Canisius took the win 5-0 and the series 2-0.
Both teams had 31 shots on goal in the game and were scoreless on the power play. Sacred Heart was 0-for-5 on the power play with seven shots as Canisius went 0-for-7 on the power play with seven shots. Capobianco made 31 saves for his second consecutive clean sheet with Vazzano making 26 stops for Sacred Heart.
The Pioneers finish the 2013-14 season with a record of 12-24-0, a 10-win improvement from a season ago.