Niagara Gazette — The Niagara hockey team battled back from two goals down but fell victim to the Sacred Heart Pioneers, 4-3 on a last-second goal Friday evening at the Milford Ice Pavilion.
After a trio of goals were scored in each of the opening two periods, the game seemed to be headed to overtime, but Mitch Nylen was able to snap home the go-ahead goal with just .09 seconds remaining to get the regulation win.
Ryan Rashid and defensemen Tyler Akeson and Vincent Muto accounted for the scoring. Adrian Ignagni started in net for the Purple Eagles, making four saves, but was replaced by Jackson Teichroeb six minutes into the contest. Teichroeb finished the contest with 32 stops.
Niagara, 7-15-3 overall and 7-8-3 in the Atlantic Hockey, went 1 for 4 on the power play and killed all but one of five penalties.
“From start to finish we had a lot of guys who were non factors in the game,” head coach Dave Burkholder said. “You can’t give a team two faceoff goals in college hockey and expect to win.”
The Pioneers (7-18-0, 6-12-0 AHA) needed a little over five minutes to open the scoring, as a clean faceoff win from Justin Danforth slipped back to Jordan Minello who beat Ignagni glove side for his fourth of the season. Sacred Heart’s Brian Sheehan responded just 30 seconds later to give the Pioneers a two-goal cushion and force the early Niagara goaltending change, bringing in Teichroeb.
The Pioneers wasted no time in testing the freshman goaltender as Justin Danforth raced in on a breakaway, but he couldn’t lift his backhand attempt over the sliding pad of Teichroeb.
Niagara put a dent into the scoreboard with under three minutes remaining in the first off the stick of Akeson via assists by Sam Alfieri and Phil Nasca. Just seven seconds after a Sacred Heart penalty expired, Pioneer goaltender Andrew Bodnarchuk gave up a rebound to Akeson at the top of the faceoff circle and the freshman buried the slap shot top-shelf to slice Sacred Heart’s lead in half.
Rashid nearly pulled the score back even with 53 seconds left until the first break, but his deflection off a Kevin Ryan slap shot from the point was waved off on a high stick.
A little over five minutes into the second period, Muto found the back of the net to even the game at two apiece. With 11 seconds remaining on the power play, Matt Chiarantano connected with Muto in the slot where his laser found its way through traffic into the cage for his third goal of the year. The Pioneers wasted no time in regaining the lead however, as Minello set up Danforth for his third goal of the season 6:54 into the second.
Niagara fought back once again to pull even with 6:13 as Rashid picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and sped in on a breakway, making a quick move before burring the puck over the shoulder of Bodnarchuk to make it 3-3 going into the final 20 minutes of regulation.
Niagara will look to bounce back at 7:05 p.m. tonight when it returns to the Milford Ice Pavilion for game two against Sacred Heart.