Niagara Gazette

Niagara U.

November 19, 2010

Zanette's natural hat trick leads Niagara over RIT

LEWISTON — If Niagara was looking to make a statement to the rest of Atlantic Hockey, Paul Zanette put an exclamation point on it.

Zanette’s natural hat trick lifted Niagara to a 4-1 win over RIT on Friday. The win gives the Purple Eagles (5-3-2, 4-1 AHA) its fifth straight in front of 1,850 at Dwyer Arena, while defending Atlantic Hockey champion RIT drops to 4-5-1.

“We weren’t scared of them,” Niagara left winger Paul Zanette said. “We had a good little run going and we came with a lot of confidence. We knew this was just another game for us.”

Zanette’s first career hat trick gives the forward an Atlantic Hockey-leading 12 goals on the season, and Purple Eagles coach Dave Burkholder knows his winger is having a impressive year.

“I don’t know what else you can say about Paul Zanette and the year he’s having,” Burkholder said. “It’s remarkable, he keeps adding to his already crazy, crazy season.”

Zanette got “the cycle” according to Burkholder, with a power play, even strength and shorthanded goal on Friday night.

Niagara struck first on the power play when Ryan Rashid was left all alone in front on the power play. Rashid lifted a backhand past Jan Ropponen for the early lead just 6:20 into the first.

RIT’s Adam Mitchell evened the score at one eight minutes later on an odd man rush. Mike Colavecchia sifted a perfect pass across to Mitchell on the 2-on-1, and the sniper finished to tie the game heading into the second period.

Zanette’s first goal came when Niagara connected on the power play for the second time, but not without some controversy. After RIT’s Andrew Favot was sent off for roughing, a Ryan Annesley point shot hit the crossbar and created a scramble in front.

Some Niagara players celebrated as if they scored a goal, but the puck was lying under the goaltender Ropponen's pads. The play was still live, however, and a scramble in front pushed the puck over the goal line to make it 2-1 Purple Eagles.

“I actually thought it went in at first and I saw it kind of bounce right around,” said Paul Zanette, who was later credited with the goal. “I was falling down and kind of whacked at it. I don’t think I hit it in, the goalie actually knocked it in with his blocker. We’ll take anything with a 1-1 game.”

Niagara had a chance to put the game away after RIT’s Adam Mitchell was handed a major penalty and game misconduct for a hit from behind just 1:23 into the third, but they were unable to add to the 2-1 lead.

NU’s Jason Beattie was also given a major and game misconduct for contact to the head five minutes later, but a RIT hooking penalty evened it up to 4 on 4 action. That’s where Zanette got his second goal of the game, lifting the stick of RIT’s Nolan Descoteaux in front and snapping a low shot past Ropponen for a 3-1 lead.

Zanette struck again for the natural hat trick just 2:11 later, picking up another loose puck in front and putting the game away with the shorthanded tally. Zanette credited his linemate Bryan Haczyk on the forecheck that set up the pair of third period goals.

“We pride ourselves on our forecheck,” Zanette said. “We get it and go to the net and good things happen. Tonight we got a couple of bounces our way.”

With the win against the its now-conference rivals, a confident Niagara team will take on Air Force today at home at 7:05 p.m. Burkholder said his team’s spirits are high after the win, but his squad knows that confidence doesn’t come just from the weekend games.

“It’s a confident group but more importantly, Monday through Thursday they work their tails off,”  Burkholder said. “That sets it up for you to cash in when the refs show up.

“We continue to have that work ethic Monday through Thursday, I think the sky’s the limit for this team.”

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