Men’s Hockey to Face RMU in Atlantic Hockey Semifinals at Blue Cross Arena on Friday
NIAGARA UNIV., N.Y. – After defeating the third-seeded Air Force Falcons two games to one in the Atlantic Hockey Association Quarterfinals in Colorado Springs, Colo., the Niagara Purple Eagles advance to the AHA Semifinals in Rochester, N.Y. for the third consecutive season. The Purple Eagles (15-19-5; 11-11-5 AHA) and fifth-seeded Robert Morris Colonials (17-17-5; 13-9-5 AHA) clash on Friday, March 21 at Blue Cross Arena one hour after the first matchup set to begin at 4:05 p.m.
Niagara earned a spot in the AHA semifinal round with a 2-1 series win over Air Force at the Cadet Ice Arena. The Falcons squeaked by the Purple Eagles (2-1) in game one before Niagara stormed back with a pair of 4-3 victories, including a decisive game three win in overtime. The Purple and White are 8-4-0 all-time in the AHA Tournament, including 2-3-0 away from Dwyer. The first round series Niagara played against the AIC Yellow Jackets was the first since becoming a member of the AHA back in 2010-11 where the Purple and White dropped a 6-3 decision to cross-town rival Canisius in a single-elimination contest at Dwyer.
Robert Morris enters the weekend’s contests as the fifth seed, missing the first round by two points with a 13-9-5 conference record (17-17-5 overall). The Colonials’ tournament journey put them past No. 12 Army in a trio of games during the opening round and a sweep over No. 4 UConn in series. Niagara and RMU split the season series (1-1-1) as the teams battled to a 3-3 stalemate in game one at 84 Lumber Arena (Oct. 19) before trading wins in the home-and-home series (Feb. 13 and Feb. 15).
HOW TO CATCH THE GAMES
• The semifinal matchup versus Robert Morris will be broadcasted live on 1340 WLVL and PurpleEagles.com, with Jeremy White on the call.
• Live stats are available via www.purpleeagles.com and can be accessed from the main page under the event calendar section.
• The contest can also be seen live on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.
NIAGARA IN THE AHA HOCKEY TOURNAMENT
• Niagara is 8-4-0 all-time in the AHA Tournament, including 2-3-0 away from Dwyer and 6-1-0 at home. The pair of wins at Air Force last weekend marked the first two road wins in AHA playoffs since becoming a member of the league in 2010-11.
• This will be the Purple and White’s third consecutive trip to the league tournament semifinals. Last year, Niagara knocked off the RIT Tigers in two games to advance to the Blue Cross Arena. During the 2011-12 campaign, the Purple Eagles swept Robert Morris in the quarterfinal series.
HOW THEY GOT HERE – QUARTERFINAL RECAP
• Niagara hockey earned a spot into the Atlantic Hockey Semifinals after taking two of three games against the Air Force Falcons in the quarterfinals series. The Purple Eagles dropped the first game, 2-1 before storming back with a pair of 4-3 victories in the second and third game for the team’s first win at AFA since Feb. 12, 2011.
• Game three saw senior Matt Williams score the game-winning overtime goal 4:49 into extra time, the team’s second OT victory of this season’s playoffs.
• Hugo Turcotte had a three-point game in Saturday’s win off two goals and an assist, Patrick Conte pocketed a three-point series (2-1-3) which included a two-point evening during Sunday’s win and Matt Williams also secured three points (1-2-3).
• Jackson Teichroeb earned the start all three nights, making a combined 89 saves, including 31 in the OT game for a 2.62 goals against average and a .918 save percentage to improve his record to 9-13-3.
• Hugo Turcotte leads the team in scoring with 27 points. Isaac Kohls is at the top of the statistical board in goals (12), while Turcotte, Ryan Rashid and TJ Sarcona are one behind with 11 goals each. Turcotte has 16 assists to his name to lead the squad and Vince Muto is a close second with 14 helpers.
• Matt Williams is first with a +17 plus/minus rating.
• Turcotte leads the squad with 136 shots on goal. Patrick Divjak is close behind with 129 looks on net.
• Freshmen goaltenders Jackson Teichroeb (9-13-3) and Adrian Ignagni (6-6-2) have split time, although Teichroeb has started the previous 10 games. Teichroeb owns a .910 save percentage and a 2.65 goals-against average.
NOT FEELING THE PRESSURE
• The newcomers have been vital to the Purple Eagles’ offense all season, and the pressure of playoffs have had no effect on the newbies who have scored 14 points (4-10-14).
• Defenseman Vince Muto has a goal and two assists to his name, in five games, while freshman Patrick Conte has a pair of goals and an assist in that span. Stephen Pietrobon and TJ Sarcona had added two points each, while Tyler Akeson, Kevin Patterson, Mike Conderman and Phil Nasca have added a point in five games.
• The Purple Eagles and Colonials have played 50 times since first meeting in the 2004-05 season, and NU holds a 28-13-9 advantage.
• Niagara was 2-1 against RMU in its three meetings last season, and went 1-1-1 this campaign.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
• Robert Morris will take part in the AHA Final Four for the first time in program history after sweeping Connecticut in the quarterfinals.
• The sweep came on the heels of 3-0 and 3-2 victories on UConn’s home ice.
SCOUTING THE COLONIALS
• Robert Morris finished the regular season with a 13-9-5 AHA mark which earned them the fifth seed. After the Colonials’ quarterfinal win over UConn, the team pushed its overall mark to 17-17-5.
• The Colonials are averaging 3.33 goals a game and are allowing 2.95, placing them 10th and 41st in the nation, respectively.
• The power play has gone 30-for-169 while the penalty kill is 129-for-171, ranking them 31st and 56th in the NCAA, respectively.
• Robert Morris have a pair of players that have cracked the 40-point mark in Cody Wydo and Zac Lynch. Wydo leads the team in scoring with 47 points on a team-leading 26 goals and is second on the squad with 21 assists. Zac Lynch leads the squad in helpers (23) and has added 18 goals for 41 points. Scott Jacklin has also contributed offensively for RMU with 33 points (14-19-33).
• Terry Shafer has been the go to netminder for the Colonials, playing in 35 of 39 games. Shafer has made 971 saves for a 3.02 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.
NOT THE FIRST TIME
• This will be the seventh time the Colonials and Purple Eagles will meet in postseason play.
• They met in their second year in the AHA together with Niagara sweeping Robert Morris in a best-of-three quarterfinal series during the 2011-12 season.
• The pair of wins were the fourth and fifth times the Purple Eagles beat the Colonials in postseason play overall, having eliminated them in single-elimination games in 2005, 2006 and 2008. Robert Morris’ only playoff win against Niagara came in 2009.
• No. 1 Mercyhurst will face No. 7 Canisius in the first semifinal at 4:05 p.m. on Friday. Canisius will look to repeat as the AHA Champion, while Mercyhurst is making the program’s third consecutive trip to the AHA Final Four.
• Should the Purple Eagles advance from their semifinal game against Robert Morris, Niagara would play in the title game on March 22against the winner of the Mercyhurst-Canisius game. The victor of the AHA Championship on Saturday will earn the automatic berth into the 2014 NCAA Tournament.