BY JOE KONZE
Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON — On Wednesday, just two days before the Niagara University men’s ice hockey team took on RIT (8-12-3, 7-8-1 Atlantic Hockey), head coach Dave Burkholder had a one-on-one meeting with freshman goaltender Adrian Ignagni.
The two talked about confidence and how it is an action, not a feeling. After leaving the meeting, Ignagni had a feeling that the trust from his coach was there again.
“He’s such a competitive kid,” Burkholder said. “He’s been a little hard on himself. And I’ve notice it in practice … For him, if he lets in a goal that he doesn’t like, he hasn’t been able to bounce back (from it).”
As Ignagni took to the ice at the Dwyer center to take on a conference rival, in front of an announced crowd of 1,356 last night, there was nothing on his mind but tracking the puck and using any part of his body to stop a blistering shot from all areas of the ice.
That once feeling of confidence transcended into an action and no shot was too hard for the netminder to handle.
Ignagni’s made 29 saves on 29 shots as the Purple Eagles were able to play a complete game en route to a 3-0 win over the Tigers.
“I just kind of stayed calm all day and went through my day normally,” Ignagni said. “I just didn’t think too much about the game. I just kind of went in there like it was another game.”
The win snapped a two-game losing streak and gave Ignani his first career shutout.
Offensively, Niagara was able to generate a plethora of scoring opportunities outshooting RIT 37 to 29 over the course of the game.
The pressure was applied early on in the game as the Purple Eagles used the first two periods to jump out to a 3-0 lead they would not relinquish.
Leading the Purple Eagles offense were forwards Isaac Kohls, TJ Sarcona and Ryan Rashid, who had a goal each.
Burkholder spoke about his team's collective efforts on the ice and said it was nice for the team to get their legs under them.
“To be able to come back and have a game like we did tonight, we were thorough in all areas,” Burkholder said. “Power play goal, shorthanded goal, five-on-five goal, shutout, we did it all. That was a really good team effort and that is how we need to play. We have a small margin for error."
Defenseman Vince Muto added two assists for Niagara as well.
Defensively, the Purple Eagles cut down the shot angles, closed in on shooters and won the position battle in front of the net.
They blocked 16 shots and were a perfect three-for-three on their penalty killing on the evening.
“I didn’t think we played with enough effort and I didn’t think we played with enough toughness,” said Tigers head coach Wayne Wilson. “I thought we were really sloppy with the puck and we took to many penalties as well.”
The Purple Eagles will travel to Rochester today to take on the Tigers for a rematch in hopes of getting their second win in two days. The game at RIT begins at 7 p.m.