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Immediate reactions: Canisius 3, Ohio State 3 (OT) – 10/31/14

By Nick Veronica

Ohio State 0 2 1 0 – 3
Canisius 2 0 1 0 – 3

What it means: Canisius tied its HarborCenter opener, but ties don’t get much more exciting than this. The energy in the building was fantastic and helped Canisius to two early goals. The Griffs and Buckeyes traded chances throughout the game and treated a standing-room-only crowd to a fine night of hockey in Griffs’ beautiful new facility.

Canisius goes to 3-1-1, Ohio State goes to 1-3-1. Canisius coach Dave Smith now 0-2-1 all time against his alma mater.

Riding Uncle Mo’: Canisius rode a huge wave of momentum to two goals in the first two minutes, with Shane Conacher opening the scoring just 22 seconds into the HarborCenter era and Doug Beck adding another 1:49 into the game. Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik pulled goalie Christian Frey after that (0 saves on 2 shots) and replaced him with Matt Tomkins, who restored order to the crease.

What goes up…: Ohio State took control with two goals in the second period from Matt Johnson and Luke Stork. Referees went to the replay to check on Johnson’s goal, which was called no goal when it first happened. Storm, a right-handed shooter, went far-side with a wrist shot from the top of right circle that beat Keegan Asmundson over his blocker. The shot took a funny bounce off the bar and I thought may have hit both the post and crossbar, but replays showed the puck hit off the back bar and came out.

Trading blows: Canisius took a 3-2 lead late in the third on Jack Stander’s first career goal (and a heck of a pass from Shane Conacher). Ohio State looked to answer with 5:51 to go but the goal was waved off. David Gust tied it with 4:01 to g0. Ohio State had the best chance in overtime, when Matthew Weis had Keegan Amundson down but shot of the crossbar with 14 seconds to go.

They said it: Canisius goalie Keegan Asmundson, on the referees going to the replay twice: “It’s like trick-or-treating,” he said. “You never know what you’re going to get.”

Quick hook: Frey lasted only 1:49 before being pulled. He had zero saves on two shots. Matt Tomkins was fantastic in relief, making 26 saves. Asmundson stopped 31 of 34 shots.

Three stars: 3: Jack Stander, Canisius. 2: David Gust, Ohio State. 3: Shane Conacher, Canisius.

Big bro following along:

Stats that were good: Canisius’ penalty kill killed off six penalties against an Ohio State power-play unit that was ranked third nationally.

Stats that were bad: Chris Rumble took three of those penalties.

Next game: Canisius and Ohio State meet again Saturday night at 7:35 p.m.

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Live blog: Canisius 3, Ohio State 3 (OT) – from the HarborCenter 10/31/14

[Preview: Ohio State at Canisius]

By Nick Veronica

FINAL: CANISIUS 3, OHIO STATE 3 (OT)

13.4: Matthew Weis had Amundson down but shot of the crossbar.

47.4: Canisius takes timeout with a faceoff in the D zone.

2:04: A bad change by Canisius gives Ohio State a great chance, but the shot is block. Tomkins comes up big on the other end to stop Doug Jessey.

3:23: No shots for Canisius yet in OT.

END 3: CANISIUS 3, OHIO STATE 3. OT is five minutes sudden death. If no one scores they tie :(

1:00: Good flow to the game here but no real chances. Looking like OT coming.

4:01: Now Ohio State ties it. David Gust poked in a loose puck. 3-3

5:51: NO GOAL.

5:51: Ohio State answers back. Play under review.

6:37: WOW Shane Conacher pulls a 360 and feeds Jack Stander for his first collegiate goal. 3-2 Canisius.

7:38: Matthew Weis heads to the box for Ohio State, two minutes for holding a Canisius player who could’ve gotten to a loose puck in the neutral zone. Griffs catch a break.

7:56: Chris Rumble takes his third penalty of the night, this time for tripping. He’s due for some gassers at practice tomorrow.

9:05: PP over. Griffs had some nice passes but couldn’t finish. Doug Beck stapled Chad Niddery near the Canisius bench during the man advantage.

11:05:  Griffs to the PP. Justin DaSilva to the box for slashing. Griffs PP is 0 for 2.

13:38: Asmundson robs Christian Lampasso with a left-pad save.

14:33: Griffs kill off another penalty.

16:33: Doug Beck to the box for interference. Sent his guy int0 the post at the end of the play but it look like good, tough defense to me.

17:31: Ohio State with the momentum early. Griffs can’t get out of their zone.

END 2: CANISIUS 2, OHIO STATE 2.

1:57: Great feed from Conacher to Cuddemi, Tomkins with a big pad save. … PP over.

3:02: Griffs to the PP. Matthew Weis two minutes for cross checking.

4:18: Matt Grazen tries a toe drag on a one-on-one but it was far too slow. Griffs and Buckeyes trading chances at a good pace.

6:42: Ohio State ties it after the power play ends. Luke Stork from Darik Angeli and Nick Oddo. 2-2.

7:27: Matthew Weis had the whole net to score into but lost the puck in his skates. Heck of a pass to find him open in front.

8:58: Chris Rumble to the box for the second time tonight, this time for cross checking. He leads the team in penalties.

12:08: After review, referee signals a good goal for Matt Johnson. My initial thought was it hit the back bar. Weird bounce. 2-1.

12:15: OSU’s Matt Johnson with a shot that looked like it went in-and-out or hit the post and crossbar off a half-breakaway. Called no goal, they’ll review.

13:26: Buckeyes have a shot off the post but Griffs holding out so far. Good rotation on the PP for OSU.

14:43: Rigney goes to the box for tripping. OSU has the momentum right now. Big kill coming up for the Griffs.

15:19: Buckeyes getting good pressure but Canisius still keeping the door closed. Bit lackadaisical in the defensive zone.

16:21: Griffs couldn’t even break into the zone on the power play. Easily their worst two minutes so far.

18:21: OSU’s Matt Johnson goes to the box for interference.

18:25: OSU’s Nick Oddo bumps into the linesman after on offsides call and the two tumble to the ice. Griffs student section loves it.

19:13: Logan Roe’s point shot was tipped and almost snuck under Tomkins’ arm, but he makes the save.

20:00: Matt Tomkins back out to start the second for Ohio State.

END 1: CANISIUS 2, OHIO STATE 0. Shots: Canisius 11, Ohio State 9. Power play: Canisius 0-0, Ohio State 0-2.

0:48: Tanner Fritz got open on the doorstep on a 3-on-2 but shot wide. Opening was there. Griffs caught a break.

1:54: Griffs get another kill. OSU power-play scoring on one-in-three tries heading into this game.

2:36: Matthew Grazen with a short-handed 2-on-1, goes upstairs and hits Tomkins in the mask.

3:00: Big left pad save from Asmundson on the PK. Griffs shoot the puck — hard — into their own bench on a clearing attempt. Look out.

3:54: Griffs back to the PK, Logan Roe for high-sticking. Good shot block in front by Stephen Farrell on the delayed penalty.

6:53: Griffs get the kill. Some good point shots from Drew Brevig.

8:17: Ohio State going with a 1-3-1 here. Nothing doing yet.

8:37: OSU’s Nick Schilkey had the top corner but shot into Asmundson’s glove.

8:53: Chris Rumble heads to the box for tripping. Ohio State power play is very good. 5-15 on the year.

Big bro is pumped:

9:17: Great chance in from for Nolan Sheeran, but he can’t dig it out from a bundle of skates. Shots are 7-2 Griffs.

10:35: A breakdown in the neutral zone sets OSU’s Matthew Weis up with a 2-on-1, but his shot is stopped by Asmundson.

10:49: The Griffs have been great in their own zone so far. No one panics with the pucks, players support the puck carrier to set up the breakout. Give Dave Smith credit.

11:20: Man, Ohio State has some little guys on its team. Some big ones, too, but a lot of small ones.

13:32: Buckeyes are not channeling at the blue line. Griffs are walking through and shooting at will. Official shots are 6-0 Griffs, though I could’ve sworn Ohio State had one.

15:52: Ohio State finally has a shot but Asmundson has no trouble with it. Griffs with a 3-on-1 than was broken up.

18:02: Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik has pulled goalie Christian Frey for Matt Tomkins.

18:11: Whoa, Doug Beck adds a second less than two minutes in. 2-0 Griffs, Josh Keilich gets the helper. Ohio State takes timeout. 2-0.

19:38: WOW! Griffs score 22 seconds into the HarborCenter era. Shane Conacher gets the goal from Nolan Sheeran. 1-0.

20:00: Opening faceoff:

PREGAME

7:39 p.m.: Bit of a delay with the microphones for the anthems but they’re through and we’re set to get underway.

7:30 p.m.: Griffs start Shane Conacher-Nolan Sheeran-Ralph Cuddemi Chris Rumble-Doug Jessey Keegan Asmundson. Ohio State goes with Anthony Greco-Tanner Fritz-David Gust Justin Dasilva-Al McLean Christian Frey.

7:20 p.m.: LOUD “Let’s go Griffs” chant from the student section. Last year people didn’t even show up before the game, let alone yell or show excitement.

7:14 p.m.: I’m told 10-12 NHL scouts will be in attendance tonight.

Line charts:

6:31 p.m.: If you’re looking for some pregame reading material, check out today’s Gameday preview blog post.

6:30 p.m.: Welcome to the HarborCenter! We’re about an hour from puck drop. I’ll have updates here throughout the game. Check back for more and follow on Twitter @NickVeronica.

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Gameday: Canisius hockey vs. Ohio State 10/31/14

Ohio State at Canisius, 7:35 p.m., HarborCenter

By Nick Veronica

Canisius Golden Griffins: 4-2, 3-1 Atlantic Hockey, 1-1 home. USCHO: not ranked. PairWise: 16. Streak: W2.

Ohio State Buckeyes: 1-3, 0-0 Big Ten, 0-1 road. USCHO: Also receiving votes. PairWise: 40. Streak: L3.

Welcome to the HarborCenter: After years of playing games at Buff State’s orange and black rink, tonight is the first game at the HarborCenter, the $170 million downtown facility across the street from the First Niagara Center. The 1,800-capacity main rink is the Griffs’ home ice. They have their logo in the neutral zone and a pretty snazzy personalized locker room. Take a look:

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Why Ohio State for the HarborCenter opener? It’s Canisius coach Dave Smith’s alma mater.

About Ohio State: If you’re wondering how the Buckeyes are still receiving votes in the USCHO poll despite being 1-3, that’s mostly because of who they’ve played. Ohio State split with Providence to open the year and dropped both games of a home-and-home with Miami (Ohio), which is ranked 10th in the country. Being a Big Ten team helps with the voters, too. 

Tanner Fritz leads the team with six points (2g, 4a), Anthony Greco had four goals and Matthew Weis has four assists. Christian Frey (.935 save percentage) and Matthew Tomkins (.887) have each started two games in net.

The Buckeyes are led by second-year coach Steve Rohlik, who played at Wisconsin and was drafted by the Penguins in the eighth round of the 1986 draft.

Series history: Ohio State leads 2-0, winning twice last year in Columbus, 3-0 and 3-1.

Players to watch: Ohio State forward Sam Jardine and goalie Matthew Tomkins were both drafted by Chicago in 2011 (sixth and seventh rounds, respectively). Canisius senior Cody Freeman is tied for 14th nationally with seven points (3g, 4a) and was recently named the NCAA’s second star of the week. Goalie Keegan Asmundson has started five of the Griffs’ six games.

What Canisius needs to do: Stay out of the penalty box. Ohio State has scored five of its eight goals this season on the power play, with Greco and Fritz scoring two each. The Buckeyes power play is tied for third nationally at 33.3 percent (5/15), while Canisius’ penalty kill ranks 46th out of 59 teams at just 73.9 percent (17/23). Stephen Farrell, Logan Roe and Matthew Backhouse has taken three penalties each.

Wild card: Sam Jardine had his arm cut by a skate three years ago and nearly lost mobility of his left hand.

How to follow the game: Go to it / Watch online / Listen online / Follow my live blog, which I’ll have up around 6:30.

Despite major losses, Chris Casey confident in Niagara’s offense – Video

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By Nick Veronica

Niagara had the worst record in the MAAC last season at 3-17. Leading scorer Antoine Mason took his 25.6 points per game to Auburn and second-leading scorer Marvin Jordan graduated. Tahjere McCall, Joe Thomas and Aaron Bodie also transferred out, leaving the Purple Eagles with no seniors and just one junior, Rayvon Harris, who has only started four games in his career.

That would seem to point to a bleak outlook in Lewiston, but coach Chris Casey doesn’t see it that way. Despite those factors, he says his offense will be better in 2014-15 than it was last season.

niagara_logo_big“I think we’re going to score the ball as well if not better than we did last year, through more guys on the floor that can score and through better team play,” Casey said Wednesday at the First Niagara Center during Big 4 Media Day.

“I also think we’re going to have better shot-making, some more guys on the floor that can make a shot. I think we have a number of guys who can score the ball. We’re stressing team play, ball movement, everyone involved.”

Niagara ranked fifth in the conference last year in points per game (75.3) and field goal percentage (.429) thanks in large part to Mason, who was the nation’s second-leading scorer. However, he also tied for first nationally in field goals attempted and missed the most shots in the country while averaging only 1.5 assists per game.

So when Casey looks at his offense, he sees a less one-dimensional team that is more willing the share the ball.

“I think we’re going to be a more team-oriented offense,” he said. “I think we’re gonna have more guys who can make shots, I think the ball’s going to move better. Antoine did a lot of good things for us but I think when you get more guys on the floor who can score and more guys who are willing to move the basketball, you end up with a better situation offensively because there’s more guys out there that are a threat.”

That line about “more guys who are willing to move the basketball” is possibly a slight against Mason but was the theme of Casey’s interview Wednesday. The Purple Eagles will certainly need to take it to heart – they’ll have to do better than last year’s 10.0 assists per game, which ranked 334th nationally.

Other Niagara notes:

– The throwback jerseys the teams will wear to the Big 4 doubleheader are great. But if you look closely, Niagara’s jerseys are the only ones without true Buffalo Braves colors. The stripes down the uniform are purple and black. Multiple sources told me that was a bit of a sticking point for the Niagara brass. “We weren’t going to wear them any other way,” one Niagara source said of having purple on the jerseys. So while Canisius will be in a nice Columbia blue, St. Bonaventure will be decked out in Braves’ orange and UB wears white the light blue trim, Niagara will have Braves-type stripes with their own traditional colors.

– Guard Wesley Myers and forward Ramone Snowden were named to the Big 4 Preseason Second Team.

– Casey had good things to say about the work Myers and Snowden put in this offseason: “They both had very good final 10 games of the season. … They worked extremely hard in the summer, both have put on some size and strength in the weight room, they’ve continued to work on their games in the summer, they both worked diligently. They both have winning attitudes. They come in, they work, they want to be good and they want to win.”

Niagara opens the season at ACC power Pitt on Nov. 14.

Big 4 teams to wear Buffalo Braves throwbacks

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By Nick Veronica

The Big 4 doubleheader on Nov. 29 will have a unique twist: all four schools will wear Buffalo Braves throwback uniforms.

The Braves were an NBA team in Buffalo in the 1970s. They are now the Los Angeles Clippers.

Canisius will wear “Columbia blue” uniforms, St. Bonaventure will wear orange, UB will wear solid white with the light blue trim and Niagara’s jerseys are white with a purple stripe — something their athletic department insisted on.

“They weren’t so excited about the short shorts,” Canisius athletic director Bill Maher joked about the response from his athletes. He said the shorts will be a tad shorter than usual but not 1970s short.

UB coach Bobby Hurley, a former Duke star, said the shades of blue used were un-Carolina enough for him.