Feb 26, 2014 11:15 PM by Greg Smith
Air Force (19-11-4, 14-8-3 AHA) travels to New York for a two-game series with the Niagara Purple Eagles (10-17-5, 10-10-5 AHA ), Friday-Saturday, Feb. 28-March 1, at 7:05 p.m. ET each night from Dwyer Arena in Niagara, N.Y. Air Force is tied for third in the league with 31 points while Niagara is tied for sixth with 25 points.
Inside the Standings
With two regular-season games remaining, Mercyhurst has clinched the regular-season title with 37 points. There are four teams within two points of each other that are battling for the other three first-round byes. Bentley is second with 32 points, Air Force and UConn are tied for third with 31 and Robert Morris is fifth with 30. Those four teams are the only teams that can earn a first round bye. Seeds five through eight will host seeds nine through 12 in the first round, March 7-9, in a best of three series. The winners of those series will then travel to the top four seeds for a best of three series, March 14-16.
All games will be broadcast in Colorado Springs on The Animal AM 1300 and on the internet at www.GoAirForceFalcons.com. Jay Ritchie will call the play-by-play. Dave Toller will be the color analyst. Pregame show begins 30 minutes before faceoff each day. All games will be video streamed live on AmericaOne.com.
Series History vs. the Purple Eagles
Niagara holds a 29-18-4 lead in the series that began in 1996 when both teams were independents. As independents, the teams played 10 times and AFA was 5-5 vs. the Purple Eagles. From 1999-2000 to 2005-06, both teams were in College Hockey America and played 31 times and Niagara held 22-6-3 advantage. Since the 2010-11 season, the teams have both been members of Atlantic Hockey. As AHA rivals, AFA has a 7-2-1 lead in the series. Seven of the last nine games were decided by two goals or less with three going OT. The teams have played 23 times in Niagara and the Purple Eagles hold a 13-7-3 advantage. However, in the last 17 games at NU, each team has won seven games with three ties. Last season, Niagara defeated Air Force, 4-3, in New York in January. Air Force then swept 13th-ranked Niagara, 5-2 and 6-1, in a two-game series at the Academy. The two wins marked the highest ranked team that Air Force ever swept. Earlier this season, Air Force beat Niagara, 7-4, at the Academy.
Earlier This Season vs. Niagara
Seven different Falcons scored as Air Force beat Niagara, 7-4, Sunday, Oct. 27, at the Cadet Ice Arena. Ryan Timar, Ben Carey, Chad Demers, Scott Holm, Jason Fabian, Cole Gunner and Johnny Hrabovsky all scored for the Falcons. Less than four minutes into the game, Timar gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead. Niagara then scored two goals in a span of 88 seconds as Patrick Conte and Matt Chartrain scored for a 2-0 NU lead. Air Force then scored three unanswered goals to take a 4-2 lead on goals by Carey, Demers and Holm late in the first period. Niagara cut the Air Force lead to 4-3 at the 9:00 mark of the second period on a goal by Mike Conderman. The Falcons answered 40 seconds later on Fabian's short-handed goal. With just over two minutes left in the third period, Niagara pulled its goaltender for the extra skater and Ryan Rashid put back a rebound at 2:09 to make the score 5-4. Shortly after the ensuing faceoff, Niagara pulled its goalie again, but this time Air Force found the empty-net as Gunner scored from Musselman and Demers. With 19 seconds left, the Falcons went on the power play and freshman Johnny Hrabovsky scored his first career goal with 13 seconds remaining. Air Force fired a season-high 44 shots while Niagara had 38. AFA was 2-for-4 on the power play while NU was 0-for-4. Jason Torf made 34 saves for the Falcons. Ignagni made 37 for the Purple Eagles.
Scouting the Purple Eagles
Niagara was the preseason pick to win the AHA in the coaches poll, but has struggled to a 10-17-5 overall record. The Purple Eagles are 10-10-5 and in sixth place in the league. After opening the season with just three wins in the first 15 games (3-11-1), the Purple Eagles then went 7-6-3 in the next 16 games. However, the Purple Eagles are winless in their last three games including a tie at league-leading Mercyhurst and then a home loss to Mercyhurst last weekend. Junior Isaac Kohls leads the team with 12 goals and 24 points. Freshmen Jackson Teichroeb and Adrian Ignagni have split time in the net. Teichroeb has a 2.95 GAA and a .900 saves percentage with a 4-11-2 record. Ignagni has a 3.11 GAA with a .900 saves percentage and a 6-6-2 record. Teichroeb has started the last three games and allowed 11 goals while making 85 saves with a 0-2-1 record.