WNY Athletics

Joe’s vs. Canisius-One More Time

For some reason there is always this feeling that St.Joe’s and Canisius facing each other on Super Monday is a gimmie. But when St.Joe’s head coach Rich Crozier said “we don’t take anything for granted” he perfectly summed up what both sides are thinking.
The Marauders and Crusaders (4:15) will kick off the Super Monday WNY Varsity Ice Hockey Federation championship triple header on KeyBank Center on Feb.27.

The night will also include Williamsville North facing Lancaster for the Large School title at 6:15 and Kenmore West against West Seneca East for the Small School crown at 8:30.

All six teams, along with the Williamsville and Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park from the girls Federation, were all on hand at KeyBank Center Friday morning for the event press conference.

This marked the first time that players from the girls Fed, who will be having their Federation championship game at HarborCenter on Sunday at 8pm, were invited to the press conference.

This will also mark the third year in a row the two clubs (SJCI and CAN) have faced each other. Last season, Joe’s handed Canisius a 4-0 loss. Two seasons ago it was Canisius who got the better of the Marauders, 2-1, before going on to wins states.

Having suffered just one loss this season Crozier feels his squad is confident in their ability to once again become state champs, but that it will take hard work to get it done.

“That’s just it. I think this is the best league in New York state,” said Crozier. “We’re very fortunate to compete in this league. Every night we’ve got to be at our best and if we’re not we certainly have a chance to be beat. When you win 23 games (one loss, one tie) I think that’s a credit to this group that they didn’t take a night off and they realize what’s at stake every night. I’m certainly proud of that. But as I’ve mentioned on a few occasions if there’s anyone who thinks all you have to do is put on a St. Joe’s jersey and it means an automatic win I’ll be the first to tell them they’re wrong. What comes with that jersey is a lot of work. A tremendous amount of effort, commitment and dedication. This group has done it as well as any we’ve had. So I’m certainly proud of them.”

St.Joe’s has won four Catholic state championships, 2011,’13,’14 and ’16, since Crozier took over in as head coach in 2008.
Senior defenseman Jack Lalley, who was part of last season’s state title win and the heartbreaking loss to Canisius two years ago, echoed his coaches words that nothing worth having comes easy. And nobody on the Marauders thinks for one second that Canisius will just roll over.

“Nobody is gonna roll over,” Lalley said. “They’re gonna play their hardest against us.”

Lalley is one of 13 seniors on the Marauders roster that also includes d-man Seth Glanowski, goalie Donovan Boshier, blue collar forward Trevor Conschafter and forward Jeremy Ienco who netted the game winner in the state championship game.

The Crusaders, who are much younger on paper, will be looking for a repeat of history as they try and upset a much more experienced Joe’s squad than in 2015.

Canisius will look to senior captain Kevin Bennett (defenseman), junior forward Cole Beiter, the last two remaining players from the 2015 state title team, and leading scorer Logan Gare.

Canisius head coach Sam Belsito feels his team is on a good run and peaking when it matters most.

“It’s been our goal since the beginning of the year. We’ve worked very hard at it all year,” said Belsito. “We’ve overcome some stuff along the way. The last 10 games we finished 8-2-1. In this last week of practice we’ve been working hard, we’ve been mentally focused. We’ve been locked in. We’ve been going over video. With our week off we’ve been in school for video (sessions), strength and conditioning. We’re just trying to stay mentally focused, mentally sharp and continue working on the ice.”

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