ERIE, Pa. – The Niagara Purple Eagles had to start the final road trip of the year shorthanded and fell 5-2 to the Mercyhurst Lakers on Friday night at the Mercyhurst Ice Center.
Special teams kept the Purple Eagles (3-23-3; 3-17-3 AHA) in the game early after the Lakers were able to build a 2-0 lead halfway through the first. NU’s penalty kill unit went a perfect 3-for-3 in the opening frame while the power-play unit answered by cashing in on their only chance through the first 20 minutes. Vince Muto took a shot through traffic from the left point and Chris Lochner was able to find the rebound in the ensuing scrum in front to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Hugo Turcotte tied the game with his 30th career goal on a highlight-reel individual effort. Turcotte picked the puck up in the neutral zone off of a turnover, made a move through a defender, took the puck wide and went around the left defenseman, cut in front, and slipped the puck by a sprawling goaltender to tie the game at 2-2 with four minutes to go in the period.
The Purple Eagles had to sit six players due to injury and rallied with just five healthy defensemen in the lineup.
“We battled back, made it 2-2, and we had a chance to go up 3-2 or 4-2, but couldn’t buy one in the second period,” head coach Dave Burkholder said. “They got one late in the second and the third period was a pretty good period. It was a gritty effort from a short-staffed team. You have to give kudos to Patrick Conte who played his first game ever on defense and I thought he looked great out there for us.”
Mercyhurst tallied with just over a minute to go in the second to take a 3-2 lead into the break. It added another pair in the third to come away with the 5-2 win.
Jackson Teichroeb made 28 saves in net for the Purple and White. The penalty killers finished the game 5-for-5.
These teams wrap up the season series tomorrow night with face-off at 7:00 p.m.