Bulls Alumni Notebook – NCAA post season well underway

#7 CANISIUS 5, #10 SACRED HEART 0
Courtesy of Canisius Athletic Communications

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Junior Cody Freeman (Toronto, Ontario) netted the first postseason hat trick in the program’s Division I history and senior netminder Tony Capobianco (Mississauga, Ontario) stopped all 31 shots he saw to lead the Canisius College hockey team to a 5-0 victory over Sacred Heart on Saturday night, completing a sweep in a best 2-of-3 Atlantic Hockey First Round series. The Griffs improve to 14-19-3 and advance to the league’s quarterfinals, while the Pioneers conclude their season with a 12-24-0 record.

Freeman recorded his first career hat trick with his three tallies and the 14th overall in the program’s Division I history. Capobianco added to his school record that he set last night with his eighth career shutout and his third in eight postseason starts.

Junior Braeden Rigney (Singhampton, Ontario) and sophomore Ralph Cuddemi (Concord, Ontario) also added goals for the Griffs in the winning effort.

“It took a total team effort tonight,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “It started with Tony Capobianco in goal and the defense set the tone with strong net-front play. Every goal is huge when it comes to the postseason but Cody Freeman’s short-handed tally in the second really turned things in our favor tonight.”

The Griffs opened the scoring 13:23 into the first period when Cuddemi netted his 11th goal of the season. On a rush, the sophomore fired a shot that bounced off the Sacred Heart goalie, over his shoulder and into the net. Senior Patrick Sullivan (Derby, N.Y.) registered an assist on Cuddemi’s tally and the Griffs never looked back.

Freeman registered his first goal of the night with his first career short-handed tally 4:59 into the second frame. The junior intercepted a Sacred Heart clearing pass and buried his opportunity top shelf for the 2-0 Canisius advantage.

The Griffs then extended their lead to three when Rigney scored his ninth goal of the season. Junior defender Logan Roe (Fort Myers, Fla.) forced a Sacred Heart turnover in its own zone and fired the puck off the boards behind the net. The puck bounced right to Rigney and the junior knocked it in with an open look for the goal with 8:27 remaining in the second.

Freeman then added two tallies in the final frame to complete his first career hat trick. His second goal of the night was set up by good puck possession down low with linemates Kyle Gibbons (Westlake, Ohio) and Sullivan with Freeman finishing from the low slot for the 4-0 advantage with 13:40 remaining.

The junior then netted his third of the night with 5:35 left in regulation, knocking in a rebound with assists going to senior Ben Danford (Stillwater, Minn.) and Gibbons. Freeman’s 10th goal of the season was the final tally in the 5-0 Canisius victory.

Both teams finished the night with 31 shots but the Pioneers could not solve Capobianco in net during the weekend. Neither team was also able to score on the power play in seven chances for the Griffs and five for Sacred Heart.

Alex Vazzano took the loss in net for the Pioneers with 26 saves.

Canisius now awaits its opponent for a best 2-of-3 Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinal series on the road next weekend. If Robert Morris defeats Army on Sunday night, the Griffs travel to face Bentley. If the Black Knights earn the victory, Canisius will square off with Air Force in Colorado. The quarterfinal series is set to begin on Friday.

Courtesy of Sacred Heart Athletic Communications

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.

#12 ARMY 4, #5 ROBERT MORRIS 2
Courtesy of Army Athletic Communications

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Senior captain Brian Schultz scored twice as 12th-seeded Army forced Game 3with a 4-2 victory over No. 5 Robert Morris in the second game of a best-of-three Atlantic Hockey Association playoff series at 84 Lumber Arena Saturday night. The winner of tomorrow night’s 7:05 p.m. first-round contest will advance to the AHA quarterfinals next weekend.

For Army (6-27-0), Saturday marked the team’s sixth win of the year, fifth on the road and first playoff victory since 2007-08.

Schultz’s two goals set a career-high as he registered his third career multiple-point game. Defensemen Maurice Alvarez and Jonathan Gehrt also scored for the Black Knights. Rookie C.J. Reuschlein and sophomores Shane Hearn and Christian Pomarico each registered a pair of assists in the victory.

Army freshman goaltender Parker Gahagen tallied 34 saves and picked up his first career playoff win. Robert Morris’ Terry Shafer made 26 stops in the loss.

Robert Morris (14-17-5) held a 36-30 advantage in shots on goal. The teams combined for 64 penalty minutes on the night, which included major infractions for both clubs. Army went 2-of-11 on the power play, while the Colonials were 1-of-7.

Army struck early in each of the first two periods. Schultz put the Black Knights on the board just 1:05 into the contest. The Aurora, Ohio, native’s goal would be the only score for either team in the opening 20 minutes.

Thanks to a Robert Morris penalty that carried over into the second period, Gehrt’s first goal of the season and fourth of his career stretched the Black Knights’ lead to 2-0 just 1:27 into the action. The offense continued to click on all cylinders, as Schultz found the net for a second time at the 4:38 mark to stretch Army’s lead to 3-0.

The Colonials retaliated as Scott Jacklin scored the first of his two goals on the night at 9:51 of the second. Sitting on a 3-1 lead, the Black Knights went back up by three as Alvarez’s slapper beat Shafer. The Cleveland, Ohio, native’s 12th goal of the year came just seconds into the Black Knights’ sixth power play chance of the night.

Robert Morris went on to take advantage of a five-minute major penalty against Army, as Jacklin’s goal with 47 seconds remaining in the period cut the deficit in half. The penalty would carry over into the third, but the Black Knights held a 4-2 lead at the second intermission.

An early RMU penalty negated the extended power play chance with a five-minute major of its own just 50 seconds into the third period. The officials stayed busy for the remainder of the game, but neither team found the back of the net over the final 20 minutes.

The best-of-three series concludes tomorrow night, March 9, at 7:05 p.m.

Courtesy of Robert Morris Sports Information

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – March 8, 2014 – In a contest that saw the two teams combine for 64 penalty minutes, the Robert Morris University men’s ice hockey team fell, 4-2, against Army on Saturday evening at 84 Lumber Arena.

With the loss, Robert Morris (14-17-5, 13-9-5 AHA) and Army (6-27-0, 5-22-0 AHA) will take to the ice Sunday evening in a winner-take-all third game in the first round of the Atlantic Hockey Playoffs.

Offensively, the Colonials were led by Scott Jacklin (Kimberley, British Columbia / Trail Smoke Eaters) who picked up both of the Robert Morris goals in the contest and now has a seven-game point streak that includes three goals during the first-round series.

The two teams combined for seven power-play opportunities in the first period, but it would be an even-strength goal just 65 seconds into the opening frame that gave Army the 1-0 lead. 

Brian Schultz ripped a one-timer in the slot that buzzed past RMU starting goaltender Terry Shafer (Penfield, N.Y. / New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs) as the Black Knights got on the board first.

Despite just four power-play opportunities for the two squads in the second period, the teams would score a total of three power-play goals.

Less than two minutes into the middle frame, Jonathan Gehrt gave the Black Knights a 2-0 advantage while the Colonials were on the penalty kill after Ghert’s shot on goal barely trickled over the line behind Shafer.

Three minutes later, Army’s lead would grow to three goals as Brian Schultz collected what would be the game-winning goal after he knocked down a shot from the point and carried the puck around Shafer to tuck it behind his outstretched pad to make the score 3-0.

Midway through the second frame, Scott Jacklin (Kimberley, British Columbia / Trail Smoke Eaters) got Robert Morris on the board.  Seconds after an Army penalty had expired, Jacklin batted home a puck that was in the air after a save was made by Army netminder Parker Gahagen.

Jacklin’s goal would go to an official review and it was deemed that the puck was not played with a high stick and the marker pulled the Colonials within two, 3-1.

The Black Knights would add a second power-play goal in the period when Maurice Alvarez fired a shot on goal that found its way behind a screened Shafer to reinstate the three-goal lead for Army, 4-1.

With less than a minute remaining in the second period, Jacklin netted his second goal of the evening.  On a RMU power play, Jacklin found a soft spot in the slot and took a feed after a rebound was given up by Gahagen and deposited into a yawning cage to make the score 4-2 after two periods.

Looking to tie the game in the third period, the Colonials would spend 13 minutes on the penalty kill that included one major penalty.  In the contest, RMU committed 13 infractions that totaled 37 minutes while Army was whistled for eight penalties while racking up 27 penalty minutes.

Suffering the loss, Shafer made 26 saves between the pipes for RMU while Gahagen stopped 34 shots to give Army the victory.

Since the Colonials joined the AHA, they have played in one other decisive game three.  During the 2012 Playoffs, RMU and AIC faced off in a winner-take-all contest with the Colonials prevailing, 4-3, in overtime.

The two teams will meet again tomorrow evening for the decisive third game in the playoff series.  Faceoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

#6 NIAGARA 4, #11 AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL 2
Courtesy of Niagara Athletic Communications

NIAGARA UNIV., N.Y. – Niagara hockey dropped American International, 4-2 to sweep the Yellow Jackets in the first round of the Atlantic Hockey Tournament First Round series at Dwyer Arena on Saturday evening.

Niagara wins the series 2-0 and advances to the AHA best-of-three quarterfinal starting next Friday, March 14.  The Purple Eagles' opponent will be determined by the remainder of the AHA First Round games that are taking place this weekend.

The Purple Eagles received goals from four different players en route to the victory.  Ryan Rashid pocketed a two-point evening off a goal and an assist, pushing the senior captain to 21 points on the season to make him the first Purple Eagle to net four consecutive 20-point seasons since Chris Moran achieved it from the 2006-10 seasons.  Niagara also received goals from Sam Alfieri, Matt Chartrain and Matt Williams.

After shutting down the Yellow Jackets last night, NU goaltender Jackson Teichroeb made his seventh consecutive start, pushing aside 29 AIC looks on net to grab his seventh victory of the year. 

“AIC was playing to keep its season going so it’s hard at any level to end someone’s year which is what we were trying to do,” head coach Dave Burkholder said.  “They are a very good team offensively which we knew coming in and they threw everything at us in the third.  Thankfully Teichroeb came up big for us and we were able to fight through it.”

Before Niagara's first period three-goal outburst, AIC's Austin Orszulak came close to putting the Yellow Jackets ahead early in the first two minutes of contest, picking up his own rebound in the slot and seeing his second attempt sail wide of the wide open net as Teichroeb was caught out of position.

The Purple Eagles' first goal of the evening came from Alfieri at 4:36 via an assist from Rashid.  Alfieri started the goal-scoring play, winning the faceoff that was pushed back to Rashid who dished it back to Alfieri for the wrist shot that beat AIC goaltender Hunter Leisner high, stick side.

The lead was pushed to two at 8:18 when Chartrain pocketed his fourth of the year.  Williams sent in a hard pass towards net that was picked up by Alfieri at the top of the crease.  The junior dished a backhand across the blue paint to Chartrain at the front of the net and he shoveled the puck under Leisner.

Tyler Akeson and Rashid connected for the final goal of the period at 15:33.  With three second remaining on the man-advantage, Akeson sent a pass across the slot to Rashid for the one timer that beat Leisner clean, stick side.

Niagara continued to extend its lead four minutes into the second stanza as Williams scored his second of the year with a low shot from the point.  TJ Sarcona and Stephen Pietrobon were credited with the assists.

Teichroeb came up big as the second period wore on to keep the Yellow Jackets off the scoreboard.  The freshman robbed Blake Peake point blank as a Chris Porter shot trickled to the open senior for the easy tap in, but Teichroeb dove across the crease and snagged the puck midair just as it was about to cross the goal line.

The Yellow Jackets found the answer to Teichroeb in the third period as David Norris scored a pair of goals.  Despite AIC outshooting the Purple Eagles, 16-7 in the frame the rookie goaltender and the NU defense clamped down in the remainder of the game to send AIC home without a victory.

The game wrapped up with AIC holding a 31-28 advantage in shots.  The Purple Eagles went 1-for-2 on the man-advantage, while AIC were scoreless on two power play attempts.

Courtesy of American International Athletic Communications

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y.—The season came to an end for American International College hockey tonight after a 4-2 loss to the Niagara Purple Eagles in Game Two of the Atlantic Hockey Championship Tournament First Round.

Niagara, who needed nearly eighty-five minutes to score just once in the first game, struck early and often in the first period, as junior center Sam Alfieri netted his fourth of the year at 4:36 and then had the primary assist on the fourth of the year by sophomore left wing Matt Chartrain at 8:18. The Purple Eagles added a third when senior right wing Ryan Rashid one-timed his eleventh of the year on the power play at 15:33.

Niagara continued their dominance in the second period, extending the lead to 4-0 when senior defenseman Matt Williams fired his second of the year home from the point through a screen at 4:02.

However, it was AIC that jumped out early in the third, and senior left wing Jon Puskar (Canton, Mich.) made a pass to junior center Alexander MacMillan (Calgary, Alb.), who fired it to the net mouth for a tip-in by freshman right wing David Norris (Calgary, Alb.) for his sixth of the year at :41. MacMillan then earned his second assist of the night with a steal along the left half wall and sent a pass to Norris which he fired off the bar and in at 11:34 for his seventh of the year.

The Jackets could not tally a third, however, and fell by the 4-2 final. Freshman Hunter Leisner (Garland, Texas) made 25 saves in the loss, while classmate Jackson Teichroeb made 29 in the win.

AIC ends the season at 10-25-1.

#8 HOLY CROSS 5, #9 RIT 1
Courtesy of Holy Cross Athletic Commuications

WORCESTER, Mass. – Senior assistant captain Shayne Stockton (Rochester, N.Y.) netted two goals including the game-winner as the Holy Cross men's hockey team defeated RIT, 5-1, at the Hart Center on Saturday evening in game two of a best two-out-of-three Atlantic Hockey Tournament first round series. With the win, the Crusaders advance to 13-20-3 overall and tie up the playoff series 1-1, while the Tigers fell to 12-19-5 overall. The two teams will conclude the first round series on Sunday, March 9 at the Hart Center as the winner will move on to the AHA quarterfinal round on March 14-16.

Sophomore Tim Driscoll (Hingham, Mass.) started the Crusader offense with a goal 47 seconds into the game. FreshmanMike Barrett (Orland Park, Ill.) caught a pass off the boards and tipped it across the center red line to senior assistant captain Adam Schmidt (Warrington, Pa.). Schmidt skated the puck up to the goal line on the glove side of RIT goalie Mike Rotolo. From the line Schmidt drew Rotolo's attention then crossed the puck to Driscoll at the bottom of the stick side faceoff circle. Driscoll sent the puck into the empty section of net and brought the Crusaders onto the board first. The Crusader line of freshmanBrett McKinnon (Kelowna, British Columbia), Stockton and sophomore Matt Vidal (Manorville, N.Y.) kept pressure on RIT with their forechecking. They forced a Tiger turnover that found its way to the slot and to the stick of Stockton. Stockton took a shot that bounced off of Rotolo's pads and back out to Stockton who buried the puck for a 2-0 Crusader lead at 2:14. The Crusaders struck again at 12:56 when sophomore Brett Lubanski (Farmington Hills, Mich.) pushed the puck out of the circle from his knees during a faceoff to the stick of senior captain Ryan McGrath (Pittsburgh, Pa.). McGrath gave the puck to sophomore Castan Sommer (Shrewsbury, Mass.). Sommer skated the puck around the crease to fake out Rotolo and when Rotolo sprawled for the puck Sommer elevated the puck over Rotolo into the net. Just before an RIT power play was about to expire, RIT's Matt Garbowsky fired a shot on junior goalie Matt Ginn (Lindsay, Ontario) that rang the post, but was just shy of the Tigers' first goal of the game. The Crusaders went into the locker room leading 3-0 and outshooting the Tigers 11-10 during the period. Neither team netted a power play goal during the period despite the Crusaders' 5-on-3 opportunity.

The second period brought more success for the Crusaders despite RIT efforts. Just four minutes into the second, Danny Smith fired a shot on Ginn's glove side that started to slide behind Ginn before he could successfully tie it up with his glove for a whistle. Ben Lynch tried at 8:48 as well when he stole the puck shaking the Crusader defense to create his own breakaway. From the top of the crease on the glove side Lynch took a shot, but Ginn shut the door. The Crusaders added another goal to their lead when they pulled Ginn in favor of an extra attacker on a delayed penalty call. Sommer added an assist to his goal when he gave the puck to McGrath. McGrath had the puck in the corner and skated it around to the front of the net where the puck deflected off the skate of Lubanski and beat Rotolo to take a 4-0 lead. With 1:05 remaining in the second period, Caleb Cameron caught a pass on the stick side of Ginn and from the corner of the crease tried to chip it into the net, but Ginn's skate denied Cameron the opportunity.

RIT lit the lamp at 2:35 for the first time of the game, but the official on the ice waived off the goal. Todd Skirving sent the puck in to the stick side of the net of Ginn, but before it could cross the line Sommer and Ginn knocked the puck free. Despite an attempt to video review the goal, the call on the ice stood and the score remained 4-0. The Tigers converted on a power play chance 3:51 into the third when Greg Noyes gave the puck to Lynch behind the net. Lynch skated up into the stick side faceoff circle of Ginn before sending it back behind the net again to Dan Schuler. Schuler brought the puck through an opening in the Crusader defense and sent it into the net on the blocker side to make the score 4-1. Noyes tried to score one of his own with a power play shot through traffic from the stick side circle, but despite the cluster in front of him, Ginn came out with a glove save to stop the play. Vidal earned his first assist of the game after Stockton won a faceoff just over 13 minutes into the third period. Vidal caught the puck and skated it behind the net before passing it to Stockton in the stick side circle. Stockton sent a shot in and caught his own rebound before skating behind the net and wrapping around for his second of the night and the final goal of the game.

Ginn came out with another incredible showing posting 29 saves during the evening, while Rotolo posted 27. The Tigers converted one of their five power play chances, while the Crusaders were unsuccessful on all six of theirs. RIT won out in faceoffs 32-29 despite a 7-2 appearance at the dot from junior Jake Youso (International Falls, Minn.). Schmidt played in the 148th game of his career tonight which is the third most of any player in program history. Stockton's two goals earned him the first star of the game, Ginn's 29 saves earned him the second and Sommer's goal and assist brought home the third star of the game.

Courtesy of RIT Sports Information

WORCESTER, Mass. – The RIT Men's Hockey team (12-19-5) dropped game two of the Atlantic Hockey Association First Round Playoff series to Holy Cross (14-20-3) 5-1 on Saturday night at the Hart Center, forcing a decisive game three tomorrow.
 
Dan Schuler scored the lone RIT goal with 16:09 remaining in the game off assists from Ben Lynch and Greg Noyes, but it was too little to late for the Tigers.
 
Tim Driscoll scored the opening goal of the game just 47 seconds in from the doorstep to give the Crusaders the quick 1-0 lead. Moments later Shayne Stockton added a backhanded rebound goal on the right side of the net just inside the right post to make it 2-0.  Holy Cross never looked back as Castan Sommer and Brett Lubanski would also score with Stockton adding his second goal of the game late in the 5-1 Crusaders win.
 
Matt Ginn was solid in net for Holy Cross making 29 saves on the night and preserving the lead his teammates built for him early.
 
RIT goaltender Mike Rotolo faced 32 shots and made 27 saves on the night.
 
Final shots were 32-30 in favor of Holy Cross.
 
Before the game several RIT players were scratched from the lineup due to flu like symptoms, which proved to be costly.
 
"We weren't at full strength today and that hurt us, but their goalie [Matt Ginn] played terrific tonight, which helped them," said RIT head coach Wayne Wilson. "I have all the confidence in the world that if we had been healthy we would of won this game, but we're not done yet and its going to be a battle tomorrow."
 
The first got off to a rough start for RIT as two quick goals by Driscoll and Stockton put the Tigers in an early 2-0 hole.
 
The one bright spot in the first came for RIT several minutes later when their penalty kill unit killed off a 5-on-3 Crusaders advantage and kept the deficit, momentarily, at 2-0.
 
With 7:04 remaining in the first the Crusaders would add a third goal courtesy of  Sommer who posted up just inside the left circle and blasted a shot over Rotolo's right shoulder.
 
In the second a delayed penalty just over halfway through the period hurt the Tigers as goalkeeper Matt Ginn was able to get off the ice and give the Crusaders an extra attacker. With the extra man Lubanski added a fourth Holy Cross goal from in close jabbing at the puck under a sprawling Rotolo.
 
In the third it looked like the Tigers had got on the board with 16:41 to go after a shot from Todd Skirving flipped behind Ginn and slide right along the goalline but somehow never crossed it.
 
Less than a minute later though Schuler would cash in for RIT as his shot from the slot sailed past Ginn to cut the Crusaders lead to 4-1.
 
With 6:22 remaining in the game Stockton all but sealed the game with a goal from in close on the right side of the net, giving the Crusaders a 5-1 lead.
 
RIT is now 23-9-4 all-time against Holy Cross and 19-4-4 against them at the Division I level. The Tigers defeated the Crusaders in both the 2008 and 2009 AHA Quarterfinals series, winning in two games in 2008 and three games in 2009. The Tigers are now 1-2-1 against Holy Cross.
 
RIT is 17-9 all-time in AHA Postseason contests since becoming eligible for the league's postseason in 2007-08 and 1-3 on the road. Their first playoff road win came last night when the Tigers defeated the Crusaders 3-2 in overtime.

With the AHA three-game first round playoff series tied at 1-1, the squads will prepare for a win or go home game three tomorrow night at the Hart Center. RIT is 4-0 during the division I era in three-game playoff series elimination games with two of those wins coming at home against Holy Cross in the 2008-09 season. Sunday's game three is slated for a 5 p.m. start.

In the other AHA first round playoff series Canisius and Niagra have punched their tickets to the quarterfinals after sweeping Sacred Heard and American International respectively. Robert Morris and Army however are tied at a game apiece and will play a decisive game three tomorrow starting at 5:05.