LEWISTON — If practice makes perfect, what does a perfect practice make?

For Ted Cook and the Niagara University men’s hockey team, hopefully a trip to the College Hockey America tournament final.

On Thursday, the once-struggling Cook again proved he has officially snapped from his early-season scoring slump, even if it just meant converting as often as possible during practice at Dwyer Arena.

During two-on-one drills, Cook had five shots. He scored five times.

“I don’t think I’d ever seen that,” he said. “I think (Vince) Rocco scored on five out of six one time. They just kept going in.”

When the drills moved to three-on-twos, Cook kept his luck rolling.

“I was coming down and tried to make a pass across. It bounced right back to me and I scored again,” he said.

Coach Dave Burkholder is happy to see Cook, who led the nation with 32 goals last season, coming on just as his team needs a push. Niagara meets Robert Morris in a CHA semifinal tonight at 7 p.m., part of a day that opens with top-seeded Bemidji State playing at 2 p.m.

“It’s like everything he’s touching is going in now,” Burkholder said. “He’ll shoot and it’ll bounce off four guys into the net. What he did in practice was unbelievable.”

Cook’s fortunes have taken a significant turn over the season’s final month, especially with the Purple Eagles’ power play clicking. The junior winger has scored in each of Niagara’s last four games, and has moved into tie for sixth in the country with 11 power-play goals. He’s also scored nine goals in his last 10 games after being held off the scoresheet in 11 of his previous 13 games.

It’s the kind of production Burkholder had been looking for earlier in the season, but he’s happy to see it now. The Purple Eagles scored five or more goals once in their first 18 games.

They’ve done so eight times in their last 16, including wins of 6-3 and 7-1 over Robert Morris two weeks ago.

But practice and regular-season success means little if the Purple Eagles can’t win their next two games, and qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

“All I know is that 7 o’clock can’t get here fast enough. It’s been a long week, not in terms of practice, but just because we’ve been anticipating. We just want to get this going. Let’s drop the puck and get it going,” Cook said.

“This is the situation we want to be in. Throw the 30 or 40 games out the window. We just want to play (today).”

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