MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – For the first time since October 2013, the Niagara Purple Eagles hockey team is ranked in the top 20 of the USCHO Men’s Division I Poll. Niagara moved up to No. 20 after four straight weeks of receiving votes following a two-game road sweep of defending Atlantic Hockey champion Air Force. It is Niagara’s first national ranking since opening the 2013-14 season at No. 20 following an appearance in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Niagara earned its first two-game sweep at Air Force since February 2005, taking down the Falcons 6-3 on Dec. 1 and 5-2 on Dec. 2. Tanner Lomsnes and Derian Plouffe finished the weekend with two goals and two assists apiece to tie for the conference lead in scoring last week. Plouffe now sits second in Atlantic Hockey with 19 points (9+10) in 15 games, while Lomsnes’ 12 goals are second in the AHC and tied for fourth in the NCAA.
Junior defenseman Niko Kovachis led the Niagara blueliners last week with three points, a plus-4 rating, and three blocked shots. He registered his first career multi-point game in the 6-3 win last Friday, scoring his first goal of the season in the first period and adding an assist on an early goal by Lomsnes. Sophomore Noah Delmas added one assist on the weekend; his 16 assists on the season are the most by any defenseman in the NCAA and his 17 points rank second among all blueliners. Goaltender Brian Wilson moved to 7-4-1 on the season and now ranks third in the conference with a 2.44 goals-against average. He made a season-high 40 saves in last Friday’s win.
The Purple Eagles (9-5-1, 8-2-1 AHC) host crosstown rival Canisius on Friday, Dec. 8 at 7:05 p.m. before a rematch with the Golden Griffins at HARBORCENTER on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 4:35 p.m. After Friday’s game at Dwyer Arena, fans can enjoy a postgame skate and autograph session with the Purple Eagles.
Photo credit: Niagara Athletic Communications