Canisius-UConn preview

No. 8 Connecticut (13-17-4, 12-12-3 AHA) vs. No. 9 Canisius (10-20-4, 10-14-3 AHA)

Game One: 7:05 p.m. Friday, March 2, Storrs, Conn.
Game Two: 7:05 p.m. Saturday, March 3, Storrs, Conn.
Game Three (if necessary): 7:05 p.m. Sunday, March 4, Storrs, Conn.

1/14/12 Connecticut 6, CANISIUS 2
1/15/12 Connecticut 4, CANISIUS 3

Tonight, the Griffs will take on the Connecticut Huskies in the first round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs. The Huskies beat Canisius in both regular season matchups this January by 6-2 and 4-3 scores respectively. However, UConn has gone through a rough stretch of hockey, going 3-7-2 since the victories at the Buffalo State Ice Arena.

The Griffs’ nemesis in those games was UConn’s leading scorer and Williamsville, N.Y. native Cole Schneider. The sophomore had three goals and an assist in the two games, including the game-tier and game-winner in the third period of the 4-3 win on Jan. 15. Canisius will have to keep Schneider and his line in check in the series.

“They have high-end skill,” senior Scott Moser said. “You have to shut down their top line and they have a really good goalie that could become really hot. So we have to get bodies to the net and then key in on that top line.”

Connecticut starting goaltender Garrett Bartus played both games against Canisius, recording a .914 save percentage and a 2.50 goals against average.

It’s up in the air who will get the nod for Canisius in between the pipes, as it has been for most of the season. Senior Dan Morrison got most of the work in the regular season against UConn, recording 43 stops and allowing seven goals. Sophomore Tony Capobianco played 30 minutes in the 6-2 loss on Jan. 14 and allowed two goals on 20 shots. Overall, Capobianco has seen more time in net for the Griffs (1087 minutes), while Morrison is better statistically in goals against, save percentage and win percentage. Both goaltenders have recorded five wins this season.

As in every game, the special teams will play a big role in which team will come out on top. In AHA contests, the Griffs and the Huskies are at opposite ends of the spectrum on the power play. Connecticut ranks first in the conference, scoring at a rate of 25.3 percent, while Canisius is last with 7.6 percent. Brant Harris leads the Huskies in power-play goals with nine, while sophomore Taylor Law is the Griffs’ leader with three. The Huskies were 2-for-5 in the season series, while the Griffs were 1-for-6. Connecticut is slightly better in penalty-killing at 85 percent to Canisius’ 82 percent.

“We know we can play with them, we know we can beat them,” Moser said. “They don’t play at a rink that’s too crazy, they don’t have too much of a home ice advantage there, they treat us well. Going there, it’s not something to hang our heads about, I think we’ll be alright.”

With Air Force, Niagara, RIT and Mercyhurst all getting first-round byes, the other first round matchups in Atlantic Hockey are as follows:

No. 5 Holy Cross vs. No. 12 Army
No. 6 Bentley vs. No. 11 Sacred Heart
No. 7 Robert Morris vs. No. 10 American International

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