Niagara Gazette

Sports

December 12, 2012

No placelike homefor Niagara

Niagara Gazette — Since the calendar year turned almost 12 months ago, the Niagara men’s hockey team has enjoyed success at Dwyer Arena.

The Purple Eagles are 13-2-2 on their own ice since Jan. 1 of last season. In fact, taking care of business at home has never really been a huge issue for a Dave Burkholder coached squad. In 2006-07, Niagara went 12-0-2 at Dwyer. That year, the Purple Eagles achieved their best ranking in program history, coming in as high as No. 16.

With the release of the latest USCHO.com polls earlier this week, Niagara is once again ranked 16th nationally, its highest since 2007, in large part due to its 6-0-1 home ice record this season.

When the Purple Eagles welcome Atlantic Hockey Association rival RIT (2-8-3, 1-5-2 AHA) to Dwyer Arena tonight for a 7 p.m. puck drop, they’ll look to continue that winning trend in their final home game of 2012.

The Purple Eagles (10-2-3, 9-0 AHA) are on an 11-game unbeaten streak (9-0-2) and are undefeated in conference play this season.

The Tigers have never won a game at Dwyer Arena.

“They’re a team that travels really well,” said Burkholder, whose roots in hockey trace back to his playing days as an all-American goaltender at RIT. “They’ll give us a tough time like they always do. There’s not a lot of love between the two programs.”

Niagara will face RIT for the first time since the Tigers ended its season with a 2-1 overtime defeat during last year’s AHA semifinals. The win was the first time RIT defeated the Purple Eagles since becoming a Division I team in 2006.

Historically, Niagara still has a stranglehold on the rivalry. But the Tigers have begun to close the gap. For the first time, the Purple Eagles will take the ice against their rivals with a bitter taste in their mouths.

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