By Sam Brouwere
In their last four conference games, over the past two weekends, the Griffs’ hockey team swept the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Tigers and were swept by the Army Black Knights.
On Nov. 4, the Griffs hosted the Tigers, coming out victorious with a score of 1-0. The game was a battle between the two goalies. Senior goaltender Charles Williams started in net for the Griffs, making 41 saves on the day (21 in the third period alone). RIT’s Mike Rotolo started for the Tigers, stopping 22 shots in the game. The Griffs’ goal came from sophomore forward Felix Chamberland with 53 seconds left in the first period.
“Tonight was a very interesting college hockey game. Both teams had a lot of scoring chances and both teams got excellent goaltending,” Coach Dave Smith said to gogriffs.com. “Charles [Williams] was able to see the puck, control his rebounds, and give our defense a lot of confidence. This was a hard game, and we feel great to get the win. Every night is a challenge, and tonight was no different.”
The following night, the Griffs travelled to Rochester, NY to play the Tigers in the second game of the home-and-home series. The Griffs swept the home-and-home, winning the finale, 2-1. Freshman forward Casey Jerry scored the first goal of the game, his first in his collegiate career, in the first period. The Griffs held the 1-0 lead until the second period, where the Tigers’ Caleb Cameron tied up the game. With two minutes left in the game, sophomore forward Joshua Gabriel scored the go-ahead goal, giving the Griffs the win. The Griffs earned another strong goaltending performance, as Williams tied a career-high in saves with 43.
The following weekend, on Nov. 11, the Griffs travelled to West Point, NY for the first of a two-game series against the Black Knights. The Griffs were shutout for the first time on the season, losing 3-0. Army’s Tipper Higgin scored the first goal of the game for the Black Knights in the first period. Not long after, the Black Knights extended their lead with a goal from Nick DeCenzo. Army furthered their lead when Dominic Franco scored in the third period, putting the game out of reach for the Griffs.
The next night, the Griffs lost to the Black Knights by a score of 5-2. The Mules jumped out to a quick lead when Franco scored his second goal of the weekend in the first period. They built on the lead when Conor Andrle also scored in the first period. Army increased their lead after a goal from Higgins in the latter stages of the second period. The game was out of reach for the Griffs after Dalton MacAfee scored late in the second period, giving Army a 4-0 lead. The Griffs did have a bright spot when freshman Nick Hutchinson scored two goals. However, the goals didn’t help the Griffs in the end, as they weren’t able to overcome the Mules impressive lead.
“We did a lot of things well tonight. We played with energy and just couldn’t find the answer to winning tonight’s game,” Coach Smith said to gogriffs.com. “Our penalty kill was excellent and we scored two power play goals, so we will start building again from there. We will continue to push our own standard as high as possible. Improving every weekend is important. We took a step back in the win column but have identified energy as critical to our overall team success.”
The Griffs are now tied for fourth place in the Atlantic Hockey Conference with a record of 3-2-1. The Griffs control their own destiny for the remainder of the season when they play Atlantic Hockey opponents. This weekend, the Griffs will host the other team that is tied for fourth place, the American International College (AIC) Yellow Jackets. The games against the Yellow Jackets are big for the Griffs due to the Atlantic Hockey significance. The guy the Griffs need to focus in on and try to slow down is Dominik Florian, the Yellow Jackets’ points leader, with nine.
The Griffs definitely have a big test when they play the Yellow Jackets this weekend, but the Griffs will need to come out on top in games like these if they want to finish in the top portion in the conference.