It’s been a career season for Doug Jessey. For the Canisius Golden Griffins, his contributions couldn’t be coming at a better time.
The junior defenseman had a career-high three points Saturday night as his goal and two assists helped pace Canisius to a 6-3 win over Robert Morris in front of 619 at Buffalo State Ice Arena.
The win locked up a first-round home playoff series for the Griffs with one regular season weekend left to play.
Jessey now has 16 points this season, surpassing his total from his first two seasons combined.
This season Jessey has seven goals and nine assists in 29 games while his five power-play goals rank him second nationally among defensemen.
Paired with sophomore Chris Rumble for the majority of the season, Jessey credits his offensive contributions to his teammates.
“Goalies aren’t seeing a lot of the pucks I’m shooting and if they do, the rebounds are going in. I’m getting points that way,” Jessey said. “I think it’s the guys I’m playing with more than what I’m doing out there. Rums is giving the puck to me in better spots. I’m not having to do as much of it on my own. I get it and put it through and hope something good happens.”
The offensive output is not a surprise to coach Dave Smith. Jessey came to Canisius as a scoring defenseman. Before his freshman year with the Griffs, he had 23 goals and 12 power-play tallies to lead all defensemen in the Maritime Junior Hockey League while playing in Woodstock, New Brunswick.
“It’s nice to see him really come into his own offensively,” Smith said. “For us, at the top of the list for him is how hard he is to play against defensively. … Doug Jessey is a man amongst men. Physically and emotionally he takes ownership in every single play he makes. He’s a guy we look to for leadership on and off the ice.”
On Saturday, he helped the Griffs build a 3-1 first-period lead, assisting on a power-play goal by Taylor Law. Matthew Grazen opened the scoring just 20 seconds into the game while Ralph Cuddemi scored a late goal on the man advantage.
In the second it was Robert Morris’ turn to score early as Greg Gibson rushed in and threw one high over Tony Capobianco just 33 seconds into the period.
The Griffs then found offense from different corners. Cody Freeman scored on a pass from Kyle Gibbons. Jessey banged away at his own rebound to force it across the goal line.
Jessey then set up Mitch Crank for a power-play goal with 17 seconds left in the second as the Griffs took a commanding 6-2 lead after 40 minutes.
Robert Morris came out with a strong start to the third period, earning a power play and scoring with 14:44 left to play to cut the lead to 6-3, but Capobianco closed the door with 12 third-period saves and 33 altogether.
The win snapped a five-game losing streak to Robert Morris and assured that Canisius will finish between sixth and eighth place in the Atlantic Hockey standings. That means the Griffs will host their best-of-three first-round playoff series.
The Griffs enter the last weekend of the regular season with an 11-11-3 conference mark and 12-17-3 overall. They will play a home-and-home series with RIT. They host the Tigers at 7 p.m. Friday and then travel to Rochester on Saturday.