(Photo Courtesy of Canisius Athletics)
Since Mark Miyashita took over as the head coach of his alma mater following the 2017 season, the Griffins has stayed pretty steady.
In his first season, they went 8-9, won the MAAC, and made an appearance in the NCAA play-in game. And they followed that memorable season up with a 2019 campaign in which they went 8-8 and lost in the first round of the MAAC tournament.
And while the first two seasons of the Miyashita era were strong, 2020 wasn’t very kind of the Griffins. At the time the season was cancelled due to the Coronavirus, they were 0-5 and had an average loss margin of nearly nine goals per game. In addition to getting beat on the scoreboard, the Griffins were getting beat in nearly every category on a game-by-game basis.
Coming into the 2021 season, Canisius loses two of their top players to graduation in Mathieu Boissonneault (13G/4A) and Carter Stefaniak (5G/1A) but they have a lot of youth returning, which could see help them bounce back strong.
That young, experienced talent that the Griffins come into the 2021 season with starts and ends in between the pipes. Otto Bergmann hopped in cage as a true freshman last season and was arguably their best and most impactful player. Starting in four games, the Detroit native made 75 saves and posted a .528 save percentage.
After a stellar freshman season, Bergmann should only take a step forward in 2021. And with him in cage again, the Griffins defense, as a whole, should see much needed improvement and chemistry from a year before. Bergmann is the straw that stirs the drink on the defensive end. As long as he is a factor they have a chance.
Out in front of the cage, things were a little jumbled and messy at times last season. The Canisius defense was never exactly set in stone and they had their lapses. However, they will be returning their top two poles from a year ago in Ryan Sharkey (9GB/6CT) and Declan Makuch (3GB/1CT). Both sophomores last season, they each saw action in all five games and Sharkey started in two while Makuch started in three.
For a defense that allowed 85 goals in five games, they will have to up their game if they want any chance to improve this coming spring. And having three of their core pieces back will certainly help bolster that growth and improvement leading up to the 2021 season.
Despite the loss of two know commodities, things look very similar on the opposite end of the field heading into the upcoming season. The Griffins return three of their top five scorers from last season, which includes two of their three starting attackmen and their top midfielder.
Sophomore attackmen Jacob Buck (9G/10A) and Mike Penna (6G/2A) look to be running the show on the offensive end next season. Buck has been a dominant force ever since he stepped on the field as a freshman and that trend looks to continue to grow in 2021. Penna’s play should continue to increase as well after taking over as a full-time starter last season.
At the midfield, junior Conry Nathan (4G) is their top returner. However, juniors Isaiah Ricketts and Jake Lemon are both returning. Ricketts started in all five games last season and found multiple ways to make an impact. It wouldn’t be surprising if he takes yet another step in the right the direction this coming season, helping the Griffins bounce back.