Niagara Univ., NY- Niagara (3-2-0, 1-2-0) earned their first Atlantic Hockey win of the season as they defeated Sacred Heart on Friday night at Dwyer Arena. The Purple Eagles used goals from five different players to earn a 6-4 win over the Pioneers.
· Niagara jumped out to an early lead in shots in the first 10 minutes of the game. At the 11:22 mark of the opening period, the Purple Eagles struck for the first goal of the game. Defensemen Josef Mysak took a pass from his defense partner Noah Carlin and fed a beautiful pass across the ice to Lars Rødne. The Norwegian wasted no time and one-timed it past the netminder to make it 1-0.
· Just over three minutes later Olivier Gauthier doubled the Niagara lead. The Pioneers attempted to breakout but Gauthier had other plans as he forced a turnover. He went in on net and had his first shot turned away but followed it for his second goal of the young season.
· The Purple Eagles weren’t done in the opening frame. Ryan Cox won a faceoff deep in the Sacred Heart zone and the puck found its way back to his blade. Cox ripped a shot from the faceoff dot and beat the goalie to make it 3-0. David Posma picked up his first career point on the play.
· Jake Sibell kept the Pioneers off the board with about a minute remaining in the period as he made a spread eagle save on a break-a-way.
· After the opening 20 minutes the Purple Eagles held a 14-5 lead in shots and won 11 of 18 faceoffs.
· Down 3-0 after the opening period, Sacred Heart went on the attack as they scored their first goal of the game at the 7:24 mark.
· Just a minute and three seconds later the Pioneers cut the Niagara lead to just one as the Pioneer defensemen made a deke in the slot and beat Sibell.
· Despite taking a penalty following their back-to-back goals, Sacred Heart tied the game at three at the 13:51 mark of the middle frame.
· After giving up three straight goals, the Purple Eagles responded to take their lead back. The trio of Lucas Bahn, Casey Carreauand Rødne went on a three on two rush into the Pioneer zone. Rødne drove the net and was there to clean up the rebound from Bahn’s shot to give the Purple Eagles their lead back.
· Niagara wasn’t done in the second period, while on the power play, the Purple Eagles showed off some nifty passing to find Glebs Prohorenkovs in the slot all alone. Prohorenkovs made no mistake and ripped into the net for his first collegiate goal. Albin Nilsson picked up his second assist of the season while Ryan Naumovski notched his first of the year.
· In the second period there were five total goals and 23 shots with Sacred Heart edging out the Purple Eagles 12-11.
· Despite scoring three goals in the middle frame, the Pioneers still trailed by two goals. Just ahead of the halfway mark of the period they made it a one goal game as they scored on a break-a-way.
· Niagara put the game on ice with less than 90 seconds remaining as Naumovski flipped the puck out of the zone with the Sacred Heart goal empty. Jason Pineo found the fluttering puck and hit it out of midair into the empty game for the sixth Purple Eagle goal.
· Sibell made his first start of the season and made 24 saves to pick up his second career win. In three career games against Sacred Heart, he has a 2.73 goals against average and a .917 save percentage.
· This is the second straight season in which the Purple Eagles picked up their first Atlantic Hockey win over Sacred Heart. It is the first season since the 2018-19 season that Niagara has won their first AHA game at home.
· Three different Purple Eagles notched their first points of the season on Friday night.
· Niagara went 1-3 on the power play and generated four shots on goal. They killed their lone penalty and did not allow a shot.
· Cox improved on his 742 career faceoff wins which was second among active AHA players coming into the weekend. He won nine of 12 draws while the team won 56.4% of faceoffs on the night.
· The Purple Eagles and Pioneers finish their weekend series tomorrow at 5:30 PM at Dwyer Arena.