Phil Rauch turns down ECHL offer, spends time playing video game instead

This post originally appeared in The Griffin Newspaper on May 6. Although the last issue of every year is the satirical “Mud Issue,” this article is based on actual events and contains real quotes, and is just pretty hilarious if you know the story. The Mud Issue does not go on The Griffin’s website (because everything else is made up) but this was too funny not to be online somewhere. Shout out to Griffs Hockey blog for help in reporting.

An exit from the Atlantic Hockey playoffs in the quarterfinal round was not the ideal finish for the Canisius hockey team, but on the bright side, they got to go golfing a lot sooner.

The photo caption read: "Phil Rauch... what a cutie. So what if he can't bury the biscuit. How can you say no to a face like that?"

Scott Moser and Cory Conacher were going golfing anyway. Moser doubles as a member of Canisius’ golf team and Conacher’s family owns a golf course in Canada. They get their fair share of swings.

The rest of the hockey team, however, being about as dastardly with the irons as they are with their hockey sticks, made the executive decision to stick to golf video games. Gone are the days of hitting the links after a workout, traded in for a couple hours alone with Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’11 and a few cold ones.

While fellow seniors Conacher and Vinny Scarsella went on to play hockey in the ECHL, Rauch said he turned down an opportunity from the Wheeling Nailers so he could finish out his degree.

Still, going to class isn’t exactly a top priority, so most of the players’ free time is spent trying to one-up each other in Xbox. They have Tiger Woods tournaments and even pass around a green jacket, just like the real Masters. Eric Rex is the latest player to claim the jacket, winning a two-hour match last Wednesday.

It was a lucky win, as Phil Rauch is usually one of the better hockey players at the video game. Or something like that. In any event, he’s the only one proud enough of winning to actually come to The Griffin with the story. Go hard or go home, right?

“If you guys want a front page story, I thought I’d fill you in and let you know I got a hole in one,” the senior captain told The Griffin via Twitter. “Augusta National hole 16… it was pretty amazing.”

Powered by the ace, Rauch says he ran away the victory in that match last week, shooting 9-under on just the back nine.

“It was something about the day, I just felt it,” he said. “It’s actually a really hard game.”

Rauch, a left-handed hockey player, plays as Tiger Woods in the video game, not Phil Mickelson, one of the few left-handed players in golf. Rex usually plays as Paul Casey.

There was some initial confusion to whether Rauch meant a video game or the real golf course in Augusta, Ga., but Moser quickly put those doubts to rest.

“I’ve never seen Phil pick up a golf club, let alone swing one,” he said. “I find it hard to believe he has any skills.

“Then again, he made a career out of putting pucks high and hard off the glass so he probably wouldn’t have a tough time getting the ball in the air. Judging by his career shooting percentage though (.000001 or something) I doubt accuracy would be anything to write home about.”

Rauch scored only one goal in his entire career at Canisius, but when he was fed Moser’s quote, he sat back in his seat and put his hand on his chin, stunned.

“Me?”

“Wow.”

“We’re going to have to have a talk with him.”

Canisius-Niagara hockey preview

Canisius' active points leader Cory Conacher

It has been nearly two years to the day since the Canisius and Niagara hockey teams last met. When Tuesday rolls around, the Griffs are hoping the wait will be well worth it.

“This is going to be a big game,” senior captain Phil Rauch said. “Probably the biggest of our college careers. Ever since we lost to them two years ago, we’ve wanted to get back at them.”

Canisius has beaten Niagara only three times since 2002, but this time, things may be different.

Canisius is coming off one of its best seasons in recent history, which included a trip to the Atlantic Hockey semifinals, and has started out hot this year. Niagara, on the other hand, had its league (College Hockey America) disband after the conclusion of last season. Niagara joined the Atlantic Hockey Association when no other league offered it membership.

Canisius has scored 19 goals so far this season and owns a 3-1-1 record, while Niagara has found the back of the net only 10 times and is still searching for its first win on this young season.

Historically, Niagara has gotten the better of the Griffs when they have met on the ice. In total, the two teams have played each other 19 times from since 1997, and Niagara leads the all-time series 12-6-1. Niagara has also outscored Canisius 74-47 in those games.

Canisius’ offense will be led by the senior duo of Cory Conacher and Vincent Scarsella, who have a combined six goals and 13 points through five games. The Griffs also have very good depth that will provide secondary scoring should Niagara shut down the top line.

The Canisius power play, which was such an asset last year, is looking strong again, even with newcomers running the unit. Special teams may be the difference against Niagara.

“I think it’s going to come down to the power-play goals on Tuesday,” Conacher said. “Against Niagara it’s always a battle. It’s going to be all about the PK and PP, and whoever wins that game is probably going to win the overall game.”

Niagara captain Ryan Annesley

Junior Dan Morrison has been a workhorse in goal, playing every game this season. He will have to contend with Niagara’s Paul Zanette and Ryan Annesley, the team’s captain. Zanette has scored three goals in four games, two of them coming on the power play, while Annesley leads the Purple Eagles with five points from defense.

Conacher currently leads Canisius in points with eight, and his five goals tie him for fourth nationally. Freshman Kyle Gibbons is not far behind with three goals and two assists. However, Gibbons isn’t the only young player who is playing well.

“Just because [the other freshmen] are not on the scoresheet doesn’t mean they’re not doing as much as Gibbons,” Scarsella said.

The newcomers are filling the holes well and make every line a threat to score. “This year we have a lot more depth than we’ve ever had,” Rauch said. “We can count on every line to go out there in any situation and get it done.”

The veterans are using their experience to set an example for the younger guys on the team going into a game this big.

“I remember my freshman year, I think I shook the whole time leading up to the [Niagara] game,” Rauch said. “You just have to stay calm; it’s just like any other game. You just have to go out there and give it your all.”

The teams meet at the Buffalo State Sports Arena at 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday. All students at the game will receive a free “White Out” t-shirt. There will be a shuttle running back and forth from the Student Center to Buff St., starting an hour before the game. Admission is free for all students with a valid ID.

Goaltender comparison: Morrison vs. Chubak

Junior Dan Morrison will be between the pipes for Canisius, and, in all likelihood, it will be freshman Carsen Chubak for Niagara. So far this season, Chubak has been named Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Week, while Morrison is the reigning Atlantic Hockey Goaltender of the Week.

The Griffin took a look at the two goaltenders; only to find out they have extremely similar numbers. Here’s a look at how the pads stack up:

Canisius roster: 

 Niagara roster:

Stats of 10/28

All-time series:

This post is the extended version of an article appearing in The Griffin, Friday, Oct. 29, that was cut for space constraints. The piece was a collaborative work by two writers, whose names are withheld for privacy. You can see the article here.