Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON- A season that started way back in October, one which was full of promise and high expectations, is finally over.
The Niagara University hockey club experienced a tumultuous season both on and off the ice, and now ventures into an unknown world which could make the season disappointing — or perhaps memorable and grand.
A final chapter in the saga was concluded with a 4-1 defeat to The United States Air Force Academy before 1,042 fans at Dwyer Arena Saturday in the regular season finale on Senior Night.
The Purple Eagles, the preseason favorites in the Atlantic Hockey poll, finished the regular season 11-11-5 in conference play and 11-18-5 overall. What some might conisder surprising is that Niagara was only 7-7-1 at home.
As a result, Niagara will be seeded sixth in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament and will host No.11 American International College next Friday and Saturday. The clubs split two games at Dwyer in mid January.
But a future which could potentially be frightening for the Purple Eagles is the lineup situation.
Ryan Rashid — Niagara’s third leading scorer — was injured on Friday night and missed Saturday’s game. Also, Isaac Kohls got smashed hard into the boards late in the second period and was visibly discombobulated when he left the ice. He did not return.
Finally, defenseman Tyler Akeson also got hurt and did not come back. Niagara played the entire third period with only 15 skaters.
“It is a tough night in that area, especially going into the playoffs,” said Niagara coach Dave Burkholder, whose club went 6-4-2 down the stretch. “We will see what we have to go with next weekend. It is the dog days. We have considered ourselves in playoff mode for three weeks now.
“We have been fortunate this year that we haven’t had so many (injuries) at the same time. It couldn’t have come at a worse possible time, but we will sort it out and get ready for AIC.”