Niagara Gazette — The Niagara University hockey team is heading to Rochester this Friday, still in contention for the Atlantic Hockey Association championship.
Matt Williams' goal at the 4:49 mark of overtime lifted the Purple Eagles to a 4-3 win in overtime, giving Niagara the series victory over Air Force in Game Three of their best-of-three AHA quarterfinals in Colorado Springs late Sunday.
Williams' shot caught the Air Force post and got past Falcons goalie Jason Torf. It ended a game that was still in progress at press time for the Gazette's print edition.
The goal capped off a series that began for Niagara catching a flight last Friday morning, the same day they opened the series against Air Force, because Western New York's late-season blizzard scrapped previous travel plans.
After losing the first game by 2-1 and rallying to win Game Two by 4-3 on Saturday night, the Purple Eagles and Falcons met on Sunday to determine who would advance to the AHA semifinals in Rochester and whose season would end that night at Cadet Ice Arena.
Niagara's Mike Benedict opened the scoring just under five and a half minutes into the first period. Kevin Albers and Niagara Falls native Pat Conte picked up the assists.
Air Force evened the score on the power play with 11:18 left in the first when Alex Halloran's shot caught some of the post but still got by Niagara's Jackson Teichroeb.
Niagara regained the lead at the 12:56 mark of the first when the Purple Eagles capitalized on an Air Force turnover in its own end, setting up Stephen Pietrobon's unassisted goal.
However, just half a minute later, the Falcons' George Michalke evened the score at 2-2.
Late in the second period, at the 16:16 mark, Conte scored his second goal of the series to put the Purple Eagles back into the lead, 3-2. Matt Williams and Phil Nasca picked up the assists.