McLaughlin Shines On Ice: Freshman Leads All Canisius Newcomers in Points

By Marshall Haim

Sports Reporter

Canisius freshman Dylan McLaughlin has been hands-down the best newcomer to the Canisius hockey team this season. The 20-year-old native of Lancaster, New York currently has 17 points on the season, scoring six goals. Last month, McLaughlin was named the Atlantic Hockey Conference Rookie of the Week after his 4-point performance in the Griffs’ two game series against the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Tigers on the road.

 

McLaughlin began the first three games off strong, scoring two points, but then was only able to score five points in a 17-game stretch. After the lack of scoring came to a halt in the RIT series on January 8 and nine, McLaughlin’s stick became a machine for acquiring points. In the opening game of the series with the Tigers, McLaughlin earned the game’s 1st star after scoring a goal, and assisting on two others.

 

“Right now we’re playing better as a team,” McLaughlin stated. “I think I’ve been in a groove right now and it’s helped everyone.”

McLaughlin has scored 10 points in his team’s last eight games, including scoring at least one point in seven of the last eight games. McLaughlin is one of four players on the team that has played in all 28 games this season. Forwards Shane Conacher and Ralph Cuddemi, as well as defenseman Geoff Fortman are the other members of the Griffs that have suited up in every game this season.

 

Out of the 12 players new to the team this season, McLaughlin currently leads the team in points by a wide margin. Forward Felix Chamberland and defenseman Cameron Heath are second and third in points scored for freshmen with nine and eight points, respectively. In Canisius’ eight games played in the New Year, McLaughlin was one point shy of matching Chamberland’s season point total. McLaughlin’s highest point total for one month in the 2015 portion of the season came in November when he scored three points.

 

“He has a high IQ. We see plays together that maybe other players don’t see,” fellow freshman and line-mate Chamberland said. “That understanding between us is really good. We’re really close friends, we hang out a lot together and I feel like I always play better with my really, really, good friends. It’s a fun part of the chemistry.”

Tom Wolf

Tom Wolf

When looking at the roster at the beginning of the season, the consensus was that the Griffs would have a down year compared to the last couple of seasons Canisius has had. With the amount of new players on the team, it’s quite a feat to have talents like McLaughlin and Chamberland.

 

Before joining Canisius, McLaughlin played four seasons on one of the highest levels of junior hockey in North America, playing in the United States Hockey League (USHL). He spent three of his four seasons in the league with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, notching a career-high 39 points in 60 games played last season, while spending only six minutes in the penalty box.

 

“He [has] very high skill and he’s a very agile skater,” Canisius head coach Dave Smith said about his leading rookie scorer. “He’s got really good hockey sense, as he is coming in prepared having played four years in the USHL. He’s a local product, that’s important for us to recruit the top local guys.”

 

Before playing for the RoughRiders, the 5-foot-11 inch forward played his inaugural season in the USHL with the Sioux Falls Stampede. He appeared in 48 games while only mustering seven points (six assists). Throughout his USHL career, McLaughlin played 214 games, netting 25 goals and assisting on 70 others. One of the astonishing notes about McLaughlin’s career within the USHL is that he only served seven minor penalties (14 penalty minutes). That gave McLaughlin an average of 0.07 penalty minutes per game, which is almost unheard of.

 

“Fun fact, he keeps me positive a lot,” Chamberland said about McLaughlin’s presence. “I’m very emotional and he’s not that emotional, he’s more quiet and I’m more talkative. When I get a little heated when I miss a shot or scoring chance, he tells me to stay positive. We’re good friends and I think it’s easy to play with someone that you can talk to.”

 

McLaughlin has also been an active member of the Griffs’ power play, scoring the 3rd most points on the Griffs with five (four assists). He trails Conacher (7) and Cuddemi (6) for the top spots on the team. On top of being a big presence on the Griffs’ power play, McLaughlin has been a force on the team, in general, as he has the 3rd highest point streak this season. Conacher holds the team-high, 10 games, that spanned from December 13, 2015 to January 16. Conacher’s line-mate, Ryan Schmelzer currently has the team’s second highest streak, seven.
McLaughlin and the rest of the Griffs will play two pivotal conference games, on the road, in Waltham, Massachusetts against the Bentley Falcons. The Griffs (who currently hold seventh place in Atlantic Hockey) will try to leap over the Falcons, who currently clench onto sixth place in the Atlantic Hockey standings, as the Griffs trail Bentley by one point. The crucial series will begin tonight at 7:05 p.m., with the puck drop for the finale at the same time tomorrow evening.

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