NIAGARA UNIV., N.Y. (Niagara Media Release) - The Niagara men's hockey team (0-7-1, 0-0-0 CHA) played the No. 19 UMass Minutemen (6-1-0, 3-1-0 Hockey East) tight, but two late goals gave the Minutemen the 4-2 victory on Program Pioneers Day at Dwyer Arena.
On a day where Niagara was honoring the 1999-00 team that earned the program's first NCAA Tournament berth, the Purps came out strong early. Senior Chris Moran (Buffalo, N.Y.), sent a pass low to fellow senior Ryan Olidis (Uxbridge, Ont.), who went behind the net and found senior Egor Mironov (Thornhill, Ont.) on the doorstep for the 1-0 lead six minutes into the first period.
"I think that we came out with a lot of energy," head coach Dave Burkholder said. "We were excited to finally be back at home after a six-game stretch."
The Purple Eagles held a 1-0 advantage until early in the second period, when UMass struck twice in a 50 second span to take a 2-1 lead, something that prompted Burkholder to put sophomore Chris Noonan (Portage, Mich.) in relief of junior Adam Avramenko (Strathmore, Alb.) between the pipes.
Niagara would tie it halfway through the second stanza, with Moran outskating the Minutemen and finding Olidis in the slot for the perfect one-timer.
The Purple Eagles and Minutemen would exchange rushes in the third period, until the Minutemen again scored two goals in a hurry, adding the game-winning goal and insurance marker within three minutes of each other.
"We were too sloppy today," Burkholder said. "UMass played a patient and good road game and in the end got the victory."
Noonan made 25 saves coming off the bench for the Purps, while Moran and Olidis both finished with two points.
Niagara begins its final season of CHA play on Friday, when they take on the Robert Morris Colonials. The game between the Minutemen and the Purple Eagles will be aired via tape-delay on Lockport Community Television on Nov. 8 and throughout the upcoming week.