No. 1 goalie not back, but Griffs have plenty of re­turnees for new sea­son

The Buffalo News - - SPORTS - By Amy Moritz NEWS SPORTS RE­PORTER

Cani­sius Col­lege kicks off its hockey sea­son with a ban­ner rais­ing as the Golden Griffins host Robert Mor­ris for a two-game At­lantic Hockey se­ries in Har­borCen­ter.

The team will hoist a ban­ner for win­ning last year’s reg­u­lar sea­son At­lantic Hockey cham­pi­onship be­fore its 7:35 p.m. game on Fri­day. The teams will meet again at 7:35 p.m. on Satur­day. Here’s what you need to know: 1. This is a re­venge game. Robert Mor­ris up­ended Cani­sius in the semi­fi­nals of the At­lantic Hockey tour­na­ment last year, end­ing the Griffs’ pro­gram-record sea­son. Cani­sius had been on a 17-game un­beaten streak head­ing into the cham­pi­onship week­end and had cap­tured its first reg­u­lar sea­son ti­tle. You can bet that the Griffs re­mem­ber that loss and are mo­ti­vated to start the sea­son with a strong show­ing against one of this year’s con­fer­ence fa­vorites.

“It’s def­i­nitely fuel in the fire a lit­tle bit,” Cani­sius se­nior cap­tain Ryan Sch­melzer said. “They ended some­thing we didn’t want to end last year. We’re us­ing that a lit­tle bit as mo­ti­va­tion.”

2. Cani­sius is look­ing for a goal­tender. You may have heard this al­ready as goal­tend­ing has been the con­stant theme of the pend­ing sea­son for the Griffs ever since el­i­gi­bil­ity ran out on fifth-year se­nior Charles Wil­liams. Wil­liams set a num­ber of pro­gram records and was the At­lantic Hockey player of the year. He was the rea­son the Griffs were able to make a run to the semi­fi­nals, back­stop­ping the team to wins as it found its of­fense. Right now, it looks like the com­pe­ti­tion for the net will be between ju­nior Si­mon Hofley and sopho­more Daniel Ur­bani.

3. The Griffs re­turn a lot. Cani­sius re­turns 24 let­ter win­ners from last sea­son’s squad. That’s a ton of ex­pe­ri­ence from a team that won a ton of games. Among the re­turn­ing lead­ers are Sch­melzer, ju­nior Dy­lan McLaughlin and ju­nior Cameron Heath. McLaughlin led the team in scor­ing with 33 points (14 goals, 19 as­sists) while Sch­melzer had 30 points and was named At­lantic Hockey’s Top De­fen­sive For­ward. Heath led Cani­sius de­fend­ers in goals (seven) and points (18).

4. It’s the first game as a head coach for Trevor Large. But don’t ex­pect a ton of changes. Large was an as­sis­tant coach for three years with the Griffs be­fore earn­ing the head coach­ing job when Dave Smith left for RPI.

“He put his own touches on some things he wanted to do, but pretty much ev­ery­thing as far as sys­tems, cul­ture, have been flow­ing like they did last year,” Sch­melzer said of the tran­si­tion. “Those were big parts of our suc­cess last year.”

And those things Large does not want to change. “That’s ex­actly what I want them to feel,” Large said. “We have so many pos­i­tives from our group last year . ... We just want to be a lit­tle more of­fen­sive, add a lit­tle more cre­ativ­ity this year.”

5. Robert Mor­ris is primed for a win. The Colo­nials are chomp­ing for a re-do in Western New York af­ter los­ing to Ni­a­gara in Dwyer Arena last week. The Colo­nials came back from a 3-1 deficit to force over­time, but Ni­a­gara earned the win in the ex­tra pe­riod. Se­nior Brady Fer­gu­son re­turns for his se­nior sea­son af­ter lead­ing At­lantic Hockey in scor­ing (24 goals, 34 as­sists) in his ju­nior year.

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