Niagara rolls past Air Force, 7 to 2

Posted at 11:00 PM, Jan 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 01:00:46-05

NIAGARA, NY — Niagara scored three power-play goals and one short-handed en route to a 7-2 win over Air Force in an Atlantic Hockey Association game, Sunday, Jan. 3, at Dwyer Arena in Niagara, N.Y.

In a high-scoring first period, the Purple Eagles (2-5-2, 1-4-2 AHA) took a 3-1 lead in the first 20 minutes. NU struck first as Ryan Cox’s power-play shot from the left circle hit the post and went in at 7:20. Air Force (0-5-0, 0-5-0 AHA) answered as freshman Jake Marti scored with a slap shot from the top of the right circle. His first career goal came at 11:46 and tied the game at 1-1. The Purple Eagles regained the lead less than a minute later as Josef Mysak netted his second of the season. Late in the period, Niagara took a 3-1 lead on the rush. Christian Gorscak led the rush down the right side and set up Ryan Naumovski for a tap in with 1:58 left in the period. After the goal, a five-minute major for contact to the head was called on NU defenseman Chris Harpur, giving the Falcons a power play.

On that five-minute power play, the Falcons had nine shots on goal, but could not light the lamp. With under a minute left on that power play, Niagara scored a short-handed goal as Cox netted his second of the game with a blast from the top of the left circle. After the goal, senior Zach LaRocque replaced Alex Schilling between the pipes for the Falcons. The Purple Eagles took a 5-1 lead at 7:43 as Croix Evingson scored on the power play.

Late in the second period, Shawn Knowlton drew a penalty and the Falcons cut into the Niagara lead early in the third. Willie Reim’s shot bounced hard off the back wall and freshman Nate Horn scored his first career goal on the rebound. Horn’s goal 35 seconds into the third period cut the Purple Eagle lead to 5-2. With the Falcons buzzing, a penalty on Air Force led to two Niagara goals. On a delayed penalty, NU forward Eric Cooley’s shot from the left point caromed off of several skates and sticks and bounced over the pad of LaRocque for a 6-2 lead at 4:52. Then on the ensuing power play, Brandon Stanley put back a rebound for a 7-2 lead at 5:28.

Air Force outshot Niagara, 34-24, in the game. Schilling started for Air Force, allowing four goals and making five saves. LaRocque played the final 38 minutes and allowed three goals while making 12 saves. Niagara’s Mike Corson made 32 saves. NU was 3-for-6 on the power play while Air Force was 1-for-2.

“Not a good night for us at all,” said Air Force head coach Frank Serratore. “We never really gained any traction in the game. They were stronger and faster and took advantage of their opportunities. We outshot them, but they had more quality chances. We have to get better in every area. We are young and thin and have a long way to go. The better team won tonight.”

Air Force and Niagara conclude the two-game series on Monday, Jan. 4, at 5:05 pm ET in Niagara, N.Y.