Before a long break, hockey is tied for third place

By Sam Brouwere

Sports Reporter

The Griffs’ hockey team will have a long break after they made out with three points (win and tie) against the Bentley Falcons.

Last Friday, Dec. 2, the Griffs hosted the Falcons, coming out victorious with a score of 4-3. Not that long into the game, sophomore forward Dylan McLaughlin scored the first goal of the game. The Griffs held the lead until senior forward Max French put home a goal for the Falcons with 1:02 into the second period. A few minutes later, Falcons’ freshman forward Matt Riggleman broke the tie for them, giving his team a 2-1 lead. Not even a minute later, the Griffs tied the game back up. Sophomore forward Ryan Schmelzer scored the tying goal for the Griffs. McLaughlin scored again for the Griffs; this time, he scored the go-ahead goal with 6:39 remaining in the second period. The Griffs would go on to hold the lead for the remainder of the night to get their sixth win on the season.

“I think all four lines and all six defensemen contributed to what we are trying to do, which is play a solid 200-foot, three-zone game. I think we did that tonight. It was a good win,” Coach Dave Smith said to gogriffs.com.

The next night, the Griffs had a different result against the Falcons as the game ended in a 3-3 draw. All of the game’s scoring came in a wild first period. The Falcons scored the first goal of the game, as French scored a power play goal with 2:08 into the game. Not that long after, junior forward Kyle Schmidt extended the Falcon’s lead with a goal. The Falcon’s 2-0 lead was quickly erased after Schmelzer and sophomore Felix Chamberland scored in the next 6 minutes, tying the game up at 2-2. The scoring continued 2:30 minutes later, as French tapped in a goal to give the Falcons a 3-2 lead. The Griffs then tied the game up. Junior forward Nolan Sheeran scored with 2:35 remaining in the period, this was the last goal in the game. Both times had opportunities to break the draw, but they were unable to in the end.

“I liked the way we played,” Coach Smith said to gogriffs.com. “Bentley brought a lot of energy tonight. Their top line got all three goals, their power play was clicking. That was the push back we were expecting, but I really liked our will to get back into the game. We had to work hard for that. In the final two periods, we put 30 shots on goal and it feels like we could have won, but you take the point, move on, and look to keep getting better.”

Schmelzer, who had five points (two goals, three assists) during the two games against, was named the Atlantic Hockey Travel Team USA Player of the Week. “Obviously it’s nice to be recognized individually, but, more importantly, we got three points there and it’s big for the standings and for our team,” said Schmelzer.

Schmelzer has been a key reason as to why the Griffs have been so successful this season. He has scored eleven points on the season (four goals, seven assists). He also is the team’s assistant captain, and his leadership shows on the ice.

The Griffs have played 11 conference games, holding a 5-3-3 record against conference opponents, and are tied for third place with the Robert Morris Colonials in the Atlantic Hockey Conference. Over winter break, the Griffs will play six games, four of which are against conference opponents.

The Griffs will travel to Worcester, MA on Friday, Dec. 30 to play the Holy Cross Crusaders in the first game of a two-game series. These will be the first time the Griffs will play after a long break. The Crusaders are currently tied for seventh in the Atlantic Hockey Conference. In the game, the Griffs will have to slow down the production of junior forward T.J. Moore. Moore currently is tied for third in points scored (14) for the Atlantic Hockey Conference.

On Friday, Jan. 6, the Griffs will host the St. Lawrence Saints in the first game of a two-game series. The games against the Saints will be a big test for the Griffs; the games will add to an already strong non-conference schedule. Win or lose, the games will give the Griffs the opportunity for strong completion, and this will help them for when they play the remainder of their games.

The next weekend, the Griffs will travel to USAF Academy, Colorado to take on the Air Force Falcons in the first game of a two-game series. The Falcons are currently tied for seventh in the Atlantic Hockey Conference. The games against the Falcons, like the games against the Crusaders, are very big for the Griffs, as the points awarded in these games could impact where the Griffs finish in the final standings.

After the Griffs’ long break, the team must continue winning games if they want to win the Atlantic Hockey Conference.

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