If the Atlantic Hockey monthly awards are any indication, Canisius is in great shape for the season ahead. The Golden Griffins secured the top awards for player, goaltender and rookie of the month between Cory Conacher, Dan Morrison and Kyle Gibbons.
The Griffins are off to a 4-3-1 start and sit in second place in Atlantic Hockey at 3-2-1 behind only newcomer Robert Morris.
Conacher, a senior from Burlington, Ontario, leads Atlantic Hockey with 10 points and six goals. He opened with a hat trick against Western Michigan, and posted two additional multi-point outings. Conacher is the defending player of the year. He has reached 100 career games played, with 45 goals and 71 assists.
Morrison, a junior from London, Ontario, owns a 4-2-1 record, a 1.97 goals against average and .947 save percentage, leading the league in the latter two categories. His save percentage ranks fifth in the nation and his goals against ranks 12th. He’s been busy in the cage, averaging 35.7 saves per game, posting six games with at least 30 saves, and leads the nation with 250 saves. His high-water mark is 51 saves against Western Michigan. His 4-0 win over Army was his fifth career shutout.
Gibbons, a forward from Westlake, Ohio, leads the league’s rookies with eight points, including five goals, and ranks eighth nationally a 1.14 points per game. Gibbons has managed to produce game-winning goals against Mercyhurst and Sacred Heart. He also had a two-goal, one-assist outing against Army.
Five other players were nominated for the player of the month award.
Sophomore Adam Pleskach of American International posted two goals and three assists for the Yellow Jackets (1-4), who managed to beat Air Force for the first time.
Senior Everett Sheen of Holy Cross has a game-winner among his two goals and six assists for the Crusaders (3-3).
Sophomore Giancarlo Iuorio of Niagara has almost matched his freshman scoring total of five goals, with three tallies and four assists as the Purple Eagles moved out to a 2-3-2 start.
Senior Denny Urban of Robert Morris has a goal and a league-high seven assists for the first-place Colonials (5-1).
Adam Hartley of Rochester Institute of Technology has seven points in seven games.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
No Tiger By The Tail: Rochester Institute of Technology posted a strong weekend. The Tigers used an overtime goal by Adam Mitchell to hand Robert Morris its first loss, a 3-2 setback, on Friday. On Saturday, RIT got goals from Adam Hartley and Mike Janda over the final six minutes for a 5-3 win at Cornell. Jan Ropponen made 28 saves for his first win in nets.
Niagara By The Atlantic: Niagara made its Atlantic Hockey debut on Friday with a 4-2 win over visiting Mercyhurst before 1,101 fans. David Ross snapped a 3-3 tie in the final minute of the second period and Bryan Haczyk provided some insurance with a late third-period goal. Carsen Chubak earned his first win of the season with a 23-save effort.
Oh, You Again: League newcomers Robert Morris and Niagara played their first Atlantic Hockey matchup on Saturday with RMC pulling out a 4-2 win. Chris Kushneriuk and Brandon Blandina scored in the final nine minutes to break a 2-2 deadlock. Robert Morris and Niagara have been competing against one another in College Hockey America since 2004-05 with Niagara owning a 21-9-6 lead.
Hurting The Huskies: Northeastern hosted a pair of Atlantic Hockey foes and dropped a pair of one-goal decisions. Gianni Baldassari tallied at 1:21 of overtime as Holy Cross prevailed 4-3 on Friday. Bentley overcame a 1-0 third-period deficit, netting goals from Erik Peterson and Brett Gensler for a 2-1 win on Saturday. In both contests, it was the first time Northeastern had lost to Holy Cross and Bentley in varsity play. Holy Cross won a 1947 contest but the Crusaders were a club team at the time. Northeastern welcomes a third consecutive Atlantic Hockey foe, Niagara, on Friday.
Eagles Clip Griffs: Niagara got a leg up in the spirited series with Canisius with a 6-5 overtime win on Tuesday. Paul Zanette scored a short-handed goal for the winner, setting a school record for career shorties with six. Mikko Sivonen had five from 1996-2000. Canisius picked up goals from Torrey Lindsay and Scott Jenks in the final 44 seconds to tie the contest at five.
Players Of The Week: Niagara sophomore Giancarlo Iuorio earned Atlantic Hockey player of the week with a power-play goal and four assists. Bentley senior Joe Calvi earned goalie of the week with 34 saves in a 2-1 victory at Northeastern. Kyle Gibbons of Canisius was named rookie of the week, posting two goals and an assist in a 4-0 win over Army.
One-For-One: Bentley won its Atlantic Hockey opener on Wednesday with a 6-2 decision over visiting Sacred Heart. Dan Koudys and Erik Peterson each scored a pair for the Falcons. Bentley, Connecticut and RIT have only played one league contest thus far, while Canisius has six in the books and Robert Morris and American International have five apiece.
Outdoor Puck: American International has moved its Feb. 19 home game with Army to UConn’s Rentschler Field in East Hartford. UConn and Sacred Heart will open Whalers Hockey Fest on Feb. 13.
Looking Ahead: There’s two non-conference contests on tap on Friday as Army visits Massachusetts and Niagara visits Northeastern. In a pair of weekend league series, Canisius visits Connecticut and Robert Morris visits Holy Cross. The pitfall of pod scheduling is on tap as Mercyhurst travels all the way to Colorado for one game with Air Force on Friday, as does Rochester Institute of Technology on Sunday.