The Griffs Fight to “Fill their Gas Tank”: After a 1-1 start, the Griffs have fallen to 2-4 after a four game skid

By Canio Marasco

Sports Reporter

After starting the season 1-1, with an encouraging win against the Vermont Catamounts in Canada, the team has since gone 1-3, including a heartbreaking loss in double overtime against the Hobart Statesmen.

The Griffs started their 1-3 skid against the Statesmen. The Griffs looked to be in control heading into the fourth quarter with a 6-3 lead. However, the Griffs only scored one goal in the final frame, while the Statesmen were able to score four goals, three of which were unanswered, pushing the game into overtime. The Griffs collapsed in the fourth quarter, a growing trend this season. In the second overtime the Statesmen scored to win the game 8-7.

Coach Randy Mearns, on the Griffs loss to the Statesmen and their subsequent breakdown in the fourth quarter, stated, “We had chances. In a game like that [a double overtime game], you get nervous even when you aren’t getting chances. When you look at the statistics and the guys that are getting opportunities to score, the challenge is we need to finish the ball. So, we’ve been working on shooting over the past couple of weeks, along with goalie scouts and tendencies [scouting the opposing team’s goalie]. We have good opportunities, but we don’t score.”

The Griffs were able to rebound from their tough loss against the Statesmen with a win against the Siena Saints. In a hard fought game, the Griffs took a narrow 5-4 lead into the half. After another tight quarter, the Griffs entered the final frame with a 7-6 lead. However, the Griffs were able to pull away in the fourth quarter, scoring five goals, to win the game 12-9.

Coach Mearns, on the win against the Saints, stated, “Against Siena we played vey well. We were still figuring out our roster and where all the pieces of the puzzle fit, but we still played a solid game.” In figuring out the roster, one player in particular has asserted himself into a lead role on the team. Connor Kearnan, a sophomore, totaled a career-high four points against the Saints. Kearnan has continued his excellent form, and now has a team leading twenty points.

The Griffs ended their four game skid with two losses. There first loss came against the Marist Red Foxes. The Griffs got off to a slow start, trailing 3-0 heading into the second quarter. The Griff offense exploded in the second quarter, scoring six goals. However, the Red Foxes matched the Griffs output, scoring six goals of their own, taking a 9-6 lead into the half. The Griffs tallied two goals in the third quarter to set-up an exciting finish in the fourth quarter. However, the Red Foxes scored four goals in the final frame to win the game 13-10.

The Griffs last loss came against the Monmouth Hawks. The Hawks took a 6-3 lead going into the half. The Griffs, after scoring three goals in the first quarter, were unable to score in the second quarter and could only tally one goal in the third. During this goal drought, the Hawks were able to score seven goals, pulling away from the Griffs. Monmouth was ultimately able to win 11-6, in rather easy fashion.

On their losses against the Red Foxes and Hawks, Coach Mearns stated, “The last two games against Marist and Monmouth, we just weren’t firing on all cylinders. Our defensive play was great, but we couldn’t clear the ball. Our offense was great in the first half, but non-existent in the second half. For us, right now, we’re taking it game by game, trying to find what went right and what went wrong. I feel in those two games, from a video sense, it really showed the things we can’t do if we want to be successful.”

After their 1-3 skid, the Griffs now have a less than impressive 2-4 record. Connor Kearnan, on the Griffs slow start, stated, “I would say that we’ve started slow because we haven’t finished our chances on the offensive side. When we get out chances we’ve been missing the net or hitting the goalie. On the defensive side there has been a lack of communication, which has really hurt us also.”

The Griffs next game is against the Manhattan Jaspers, who are currently last in the MAAC with a 0-2 conference record. The Jaspers are a poor 2-9 overall on the season due largely to their inability to score. On the season, the Jaspers have totaled 67 goals, while giving-up 135. The Jaspers have also been deficient in face-offs and groundballs this season. The Jaspers have only collected 241 groundballs, while their opponents have totaled 365. Their face-off record is a dismal 76-241, which means they are only winning 31.5 percent of the draws. Most teams would like to win about fifty to sixty percent of face-offs, meaning the Jaspers are severely lacking in this area.

Coach Mearns, on their match-up with the Jaspers, stated, “Manhattan has been showing a lot of zone on defense, so we’ve had to work on a variety of offenses to combat that. I think our defense is solid and I think they’ve been playing great. I feel we need to clear the ball better. Against Monmouth we had five or six failed clears, which is a big possession swing. Also, we have to score our chances. We also need to continue to have success on the face-offs. I think the most important thing will be winning the groundball battle, especially the contested ones. I think if we make those changes and keep playing at an effective pace, I don’t see why we can’t win. We need to ‘fill-up the gas tank.’ Manhattan is a great team, but we need to compete, execute and I think the team is going to respond.”

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