NIAGARA UNIV., N.Y. – The Niagara Purple Eagles trailed the entire game before they stormed back to earn a 4-4 tie on Saturday night at Dwyer Arena to take three of a possible four points on the weekend from the Air Force Falcons.
Second-period goals from Sam Alfieri and Isaac Kohls kept Niagara (4-24-4; 4-18-4 AHA) within striking distance before Brock Edwards and Keegan Harper both scored in the third to send the game into overtime.
“We were down two and played our best period in the third,” said head coach Dave Burkholder. “If we play like that all game, we probably pull it off. There was no quit on the bench, which is great. We just ran out of time, but I thought the third period was pretty gutsy for us.”
The Purple Eagles success in front of the net carried over from Friday night’s contest as both Alfieri and Kohls scored from the doorstep. Alfieri fought off defenders in a net-front scrum and slammed home a rebound from a Stephen Pietrobon shot to get NU on the board three minutes into the frame. Stanislav Dzakhov quarterbacked the play that led to the Purple Eagles’ second goal. The freshman went coast-to-coast and fed a pass to an open Kohls in front to cut the deficit to 4-2.
The lead was trimmed to one, 4-3, under a minute into the third period when Hugo Turcotte found Edwards on just inside the right face-off circle. Edwards took the pass, put a move on the goalie to open up room five-hole, and didn’t miss on the shot.
Harper tied the game from the top of the left circle with less than three minutes to play in regulation. The puck came to the defenseman from a scrum along the boards. He faked a shot, stepped around a sliding defender, and ripped a shot far side to tie the game at 4-4.
“I thought Brock’s goal at the beginning of the third period really got us going,” said Burkholder. “That whole line hemmed them in on the forecheck, and then Hugo chipped it to Brock for a play that was as pretty as it gets in Division I. Keegan’s play was one of the goals of the year as well. I’m just glad we hung in there and gutted it out.
The Falcons (13-18-4; 21-11-3 AHA) scored the only goal of the first period and added three in the second. One of those three second-period goals came on a penalty shot.
Harper, Edwards, and Turcotte finished with two points apiece. TJ Sarcona assisted on Kohls’ tally to give them both a team-high four points on the weekend. Jackson Teichroeb made 14 saves on the night.
Niagara wraps up the regular season next weekend with a home-and-home against Robert Morris. Friday’s game will be a 7:00 p.m. start at Dwyer Arena and will feature a pre-game ceremony to honor the 2014-15 seniors.