Conacher adds two assists in second NHL game

Cory Conacher is dominating the rookie scoring page on

Cory Conacher is dominating the rookie page on

Cory Conacher set up two third-period goals that nearly led Tampa Bay to a wild comeback in an eventual 4-3 loss to the New York Islanders Monday in his second NHL game.

New York jumped ahead with three goals in the second period; the first coming on a man-advantage created by Conacher’s first penalty. After going down 4-0, Tampa responded with three goals in 5 1/2 minutes to set up an entertaining finish.

Martin St. Louis got the Lightning on the board 2:22 into the third with Steven Stamkos and Conacher, the recipient of a favorable scoring decision, getting assists on the play.

That line scored again with 12 minutes to go in the game when Conacher fired a pass across the top of the crease for Stamkos, who put it in to draw the Lightning within one.

Lightning coach Guy Boucher had Conacher out at the end of the game for a chance to tie it with the goalie pulled (though it was only 5-on-5 because they had a penalty), but Tampa couldn’t score and lost its first game of the season.

Conacher had a bump in ice time from his first game, going from 13:50 time on ice to 16:03, including 2:07 on the power play. He was plus-1 with one shot, no hits and no blocked shots.

Conacher now has four points in his first two NHL games (one goal, three assists), putting him first in rookie scoring.

Tampa’s next game is 7 p.m. Tuesday at Carolina.



Conacher has goal and assist in NHL debut

conachertbCanisius grad Cory Conacher had a goal and an assist in his first NHL game Saturday and was named third star while his Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Washington Capitals 6-3.

Wearing jersey No. 89, Conacher played left wing on a line with Vincent Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell. He was plus-1 with two shots on goal in 13 minutes 50 seconds of ice time, including 4:42 on the power play. He was not credited with any hits or blocked shots and did not take a penalty.

Conacher’s goal gave Tampa some late insurance, putting the Lightning up 5-3 with 6:36 left in the game. Continue reading

Griffs rebound from loss to Siena with largest MAAC win in 16 years

The Canisius bench cheers on a three-pointer.

The Canisius bench cheers on a three-pointer.

Eight days after trudging through 40 minutes of basketball and losing to last-place Siena on a shot at the buzzer, Canisius responded with the type of game you’d expect from a conference favorite against a depleted cellar-dweller.

The Griffs hit three-pointers against the Saints’ zone defense and scored in transition repeatedly. They passed well and shot well and did a phenomenal job of securing the ball, with a season-low four turnovers. The defense responded after a few sloppy performances by limiting Siena’s offensive threats and coming up with 13 steals.

The numbers say Canisius’ 76-44 dismantling of Siena was its largest conference win since 1997, but the eye test shows more: After a string of sloppy games, the Griffs put the pedal to the floor right from the start and never slowed down. They were prepared.

“Absolutely,” Isaac Sosa agreed. “We did a really good job today especially defensively against this team and understanding the scouting report. … We understood that today and we took pride in our defense.”

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Ott looks good at Sabres skate

Jordan Leopold skates by the net in a small-sided drill.

Jordan Leopold skates by the net in a small-sided drill.

I checked out the Buffalo Sabres’ optional practice Wednesday morning at the Northtown Center in Amherst. It was tough to really gauge who looked ready to play (everyone looks good when no one’s really playing defense and the goalies aren’t professional caliber) but here’s what stood out to me:

—Steve Ott looked good. Everyone on the ice had his way with the goalies (even “coach” Andrew Peters), but Ott’s shots were particularly well-placed and he continued to create openings and finish when they broke into small-sided games.

—John Scott skated for the first time this week, donning New York Rangers gear and green socks. The 6-foot-8 newcomer’s biggest talent seems to be just that: being a large person. All pros are great puck-handlers and shooters, but other players on the ice were clearly a step above him talent-wise. Scott hasn’t scored since 2009-10, but that’s OK — his job is to be large and intimidating (and/or take out Milan Lucic) and he certainly accomplishes that.

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Sosa bounces back to lead Griffs over Marist; Hymes suspended

Alshwan Hymes was suspended for Saturday's game and possibly longer. He is second all-time in three-pointers made by a Griffs.

Alshwan Hymes was suspended for Saturday’s game and possibly longer. He is second all-time in three-pointers made by a Griff. More below.

After an 0-fer night Thursday, Isaac Sosa rebounded with five three-pointers to lead Canisius past Marist, 73-64, Saturday in the Koessler Athletic Center to break the Griffs’ first losing streak under Jim Baron.

The win, Baron’s 399th as a Division I coach, kept Canisius on par with Niagara atop the MAAC standings and doubled its win total from last season.

“I was just ready,” Sosa said. “To be honest, I didn’t worry about [last game]. It’s not like any of us had a good game; we really struggled on Thursday. I was just being myself, being aggressive and letting my shots fly.”

Sosa led the Griffs with 22 points and jump-started the offense in the second half with four three-pointers in a two-minute stretch. Billy Baron had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds and Chris Manhertz nearly matched the feat, collecting 14 rebounds and adding nine points. Canisius never trailed in the game.

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