In the third, though, the Minutemen got a goal from Wellman with just over five minutes to play, and then James Marcou tipped another loose puck Noonan to ice the game.
“We came out with a lot of energy, but as the game wore on they played like a ranked team and their speed was overwhelming at times,” Burkholder said. “We’re a very fast team when we’re forechecking, but they’re fast when they’ve got the puck. They’re so quick on their transition game.
“We were in chase mode for sure.”
One positive for the Purple Eagles was the emergence of Olidis, Mironov and Moran as a top line. The trio accounted for all three goals in the two games against UMass — Niagara lost 4-1 on Friday at the Mullins Center — and gave the Minutemen fits at times. Mironov, especially, made his presence felt in the offensive zone, and his hit that led to Olidis’ goal was a mirror image of a play from Friday night.
“We need that out of Egor. That’s his job. He’s a power forward. Yeah, he’s got the big shot, but if he’s not finishing his checks, he’s not doing his job,” Burkholder said. “We put them together this weekend. We’ll go as they go. We got energy off their shifts.”
“That Niagara team is a whole lot better than their record,” said UMass coach Don Cahoon, who grew up close to Buffalo Bills coach Dick Jauron. “That teams skates too well ... they’re going to win some games.’
Still, it’s been a tough non-conference slate for Niagara, which opens its final season in College Hockey America on Friday against Robert Morris.
“It’s frustrating, but we have been playing strong games,” Mironov said. “A bad bounce and those teams that are ranked, they’re going to capitalize on them. That’s just what happens.”
“We’ve made progress every game,” Burkholder added. “But (Sunday), I’m really not happy with the overall details. Turnovers. We were sloppy. It’s disappointing. We were so excited to get back home and I don’t think people saw the way we’ve been playing on this six-game road trip.”
Contact sports editor Tim Schmitt at 282-2311, ext. 2266.