NIAGARA UNIV., N.Y. – The Niagara Purple Eagles had nine players find the score sheet in the team’s mammoth 6-1 win over the Air Force Falcons on Friday night in Dwyer Arena.
Niagara built a 4-0 lead through the opening 40 minutes as Isaac Kohls, Stanislav Dzakhov, Matt Chartrain, and Dan Kolenda all crashed the net and converted from around the doorstep. TJ Sarcona added two goals in the third to give his team the 6-1 win.
“We preach it in practice; that’s where all the magic happens, at the top of the crease, both at this level and if these guys are going to go on and play pro,” head coach Dave Burkholder said. “If you go there you’re going to be rewarded like the guys were tonight.”
Kohls got the point-fest underway less than three minutes into the game when the senior drove to the net while Sarcona went wide on the rush. Sarcona slipped a pass through traffic to Kohls at the goalmouth for his fifth goal of the season. Dzakhov doubled the lead just over five minutes later when the freshman slammed home a rebound at the 8:01 mark.
NU added another pair in the second, beginning with Chartrain’s strike 1:14 into the frame. Derian Plouffe collected the first of his two assists in the second when he fired a pass in front that Chartrain was able to shovel past the Falcons’ netminder to push the lead to 3-0. Halfway through the second, Kolenda posted-up at the top of the crease and convert a loose rebound left over from a Chartrain attempt to give Niagara a 4-0 lead heading into the third.
Sarcona’s big third period started after Air Force was able to tally on a 5-on-3 power play when the center picked off a clearing attempt by the Falcons and sent a wrister far side to make it a 5-1 game seven minutes into the period. He added a power-play tally with six minutes remaining after a shot from Keegan Harper found a way through the goaltender where Sarcona helped it over the goal line before the defense could clear it.
“We need to continue to do the same [tomorrow night],” Burkholder said. “We got puck in behind their defense and went after it on the fore-check. Some of our goals weren’t pretty, but guys were in the right spot.”
“Obviously our top line was key, they won the game for us,” he continued. “I thought that line clicked and you’re top guys have to be your top guys, especially going into the playoffs.”
That top line of Dzakhov-Sarcona-Kohls combined for seven points (4g, 3a) on the night. Jackson Teichroeb earned the win with 22 saves through the complete 60 minutes.
The penalty kill unit was strong again for the Purple and White with a 5-for-6 outing. The power play scored in the fourth-straight game and has now tallied in five of the last six games in which Niagara has had the man-advantage.
These teams wrap up their four-game season series tomorrow night with a 7:05 p.m. face-off at Dwyer Arena.