Irreplaceable

By Dominic Chamberlain

Sports Editor

When the clock hit zero in third period of the Canisius/Air Force game last saturday night, the Griffs season wasn’t the only thing to end.

It was the second round of the Atlantic Hockey tournament and the Griffs were already down one game in a best of three series.  After losing the first match-up against the Falcons 4-1 the Griffs repeated and lost game two 4-1.

A disappointing way to end the year.

The Griffs final goal of the year was scored by sophomore Ryan Schmelzer, the secondary assist came from freshman Cameron Heath; two players that will return next season.

The primary assist came from someone who will not return next season, Ralph Cuddemi.

Ralph was the leader of the team during his final season as he was named team captain. He led the offense, playing most of the year on the top line with his trusty duo next to him of Schmelzer and junior Shane Conacher.

Ralph finished his Canisius career with 123 points, 61 of which came from goals. Those 123 points is good enough for fifth all-time on the Griffs scoring list.

For all intents and purposes Cuddemi is Irreplaceable.

He’s the type of player that only comes around for our small school every now and then. We aren’t Michigan; we don’t have the “C-C-M line” of three players who are all Hobey Baker Award finalists.

Sure we have Conacher still but he is in the same vein as Cuddemi, one of those elite players that our school doesn’t get often. Conacher will lead the offense next year as a senior and he will more than likely do it well but he will do it without his scoring partner Cuddemi. It’s hard to imagine one without the other but next year that is the reality.

One may expect either Dylan McLaughlin or Felix Chamberland to replace Cuddemi on the top line; or as best they can. Both of those freshman had great first seasons but frankly they will not be Ralph Cuddemi.

Who knows maybe Coach Smith puts a freshman with his top line next year like he did with Schmelzer when he joined Cuddemi and Conacher during his freshman year. In theory that would balance the lines out a bit more; put two players you know can play with one player you want to see playing on that level eventually.

Either way the fact remains that Cuddemi is gone. Next year someone will take his spot on the top line, but whoever does they will not be able to replace him.

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