We’re back with the Alphabetical 2014 NCAA D1 Previews! Like last year, we’ll go through all of the D1 men’s teams for 2014 (there are 67 this year!) and we are now moving on to the Canisius Golden Griffins, located in Buffalo, NY.
Canisius was 6-8 in 2012 but ended up winning the MAAC and eventually losing to Loyola in the NCAAs. 2013 saw Canisius improve their OOC schedule, but the results were tough as the team finished the year sitting at 3-10. 5 straight losses to open the season against Air Force, Denver, Cornell, Albany, and Hobart made for a rough start. A win over VMI was a nice reprieve, but then Canisius lost three more games in a row (this time to Marist, Syracuse, and Siena) and Canisius was pretty much done. Tight wins over Manhattan and Binghamton were followed up by losses to Jacksonville and Detroit.
2014 sees Canisius return to the MAAC, and they retain Air Force, Cornell, Hobart, Denver, and VMI as OOC opponents. Their schedule matches up to 2013′s schedule nicely, so if Canisius wants to take a step up, they just need to improve. There is no way around it.
Scoring is the top concern for the Golden Griffins. Last year they only broke the double digit goal mark in four games, and in two of those games Canisius did the bare minimum, scoring 10 goals. 12 goals against Binghamton represented a year high for the team. Joe Rautenstrauch is gone, but of the Griffins’ top 7 scorers, 6 others return. Tim Edwards, Vince Gravino, Brandon Bull, and Austin Romantic all return as leaders of the offense. Edwards should continue to shine from the midfield, and the offense overall is a little older and more experienced. This group will need help though, and I’m interested to see if any fresh faces can step up.
Alex Govenettio returns for his Junior year in net, and while his record wasn’t great last year, Govenettio is a solid keeper. His save percentage was below .500 last year however, and that will need to pick up for Canisius to see success. Helping Govenettio in his quest to keep goals out will be Dylan Knopfke, Adam Donner, Kevin Collins, and Rich Stapleton. The D and LSM both return intact, and with younger players pushing for time, the D should shape up nicely.
Mike Moran’s graduation leaves some concern when it comes to face offs, but Brandon Bull and Tim Edwards saw some success there last year, so the cupboard is far from bare. Canisius should be able to find someone, and their worst case scenario is face off by committee of athletes. It’s not a bad option.
Overall, Canisius looks better than they did in 2013. Their youth has some more experience, and the team has better depth at many positions. 3-10 was a disappointing record last year, and the Griffs have the pieces to improve upon that showing. How much they will improve remains to be seen, but I could see them winning 5-7 games easily this year, and maybe even making another run at a MAAC title.