By THOMAS BALDWIN
Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON — The Niagara hockey team received elements it has been getting all season — a solid goaltending performance and a big goal from a new face — and beat Bentley University, 2-1, Friday night at Dwyer Arena.
This time, Jeff Hannan scored for the first time since early November, Chris Lochner scored the eventual game-winner and Carsen Chubak steered aside 20 shots to earn the win.
The news wasn't all good for the Purple Eagles, though. Dan Kolenda was carted off the ice on a stretcher after absorbing a horrifying hit in the second period.
Kolenda was smacked hard into the spot where the glass ends at the end of the Niagara bench early in a bulldozer type collision with Bentley’s Zach Marginsky. He lied motionless for several moments before being taken to Mount St. Mary’s Hospital where he underwent precautionary tests.
Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said everything appears to be fine, and Kolenda was actually headed back to the rink after the game.
Despite that potentially terrifying scenario, another Purple Eagles triumph gave the 17th-ranked club in the country a 16-4-5 record overall and a 15-1-2 Atlantic Hockey mark.
“That’s the sign of a good team,” said Burkholder of other players stepping up. “Starting with Carsen on out, it is not how many (saves) but when. They (Bentley) are really good offensively, and they have some dangerous players, and I thought we shut them down pretty good.”
Hannan scored for the first time since Nov. 10 when he stormed to the net and banged in Sam Alfieri’s rebound to give the Purple Eagles a 1-0 lead midway through the second period.
“Jeff plays hard every game, he is an honest player,” Burkholder said. “For him to be rewarded like that is key for us.”
Lochner got the winner when he steamed towards the Bentley net speedily and redirected Hannan’s precision pass over Bentley goaltender Branden Komm’s glove to give the Purple Eagles a 2-0 lead at 7:19 of the third period.
“It was tic tac toe,” said Lochner. “Ryan (Rashid) brought it into the zone, and he saw the defender coming to him, so he dished it to Hannan on the left wing. I was driving to the net like coach tells us, and I was screaming ‘Hannan!’ He put it right on my tape and I just had to touch it, and it went into the top corner.”
The Falcons’ Brett Hartung got his club on the board midway through the third period to slice Niagara’s lead to 2-1. From there, Niagara held on, thanks in part to Bentley’s Andre Gladiuk denting the post with just 25 seconds left.
NOTES: The teams wrap up the series at 7:05 tonight. … Niagara’s Matt Chartrain and Hugo Turcotte, who missed last weekend’s series against the Rochester Institute of Technology, both returned to the lineup. ... Giancarlo Iuorio, Isaac Kohls and Matt Williams were scratched again due to injury. ... The Purple Eagles outshot the Falcons 39-21. ... Bentley fell to 9-8-1 in conference play and 11-12-1 overall.