NIAGARA, N.Y.. - Niagara scored three goals in the third period as the 18th-ranked Purple Eagles beat Air Force, 4-3, in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Saturday, Jan. 5, at Dwyer Arena in Niagara, N.Y. Niagara (11-3-4 overall) remains in first place in the AHA with a 10-0-1 conference record. Air Force fell to 6-9-4 overall and 4-5-2 in the league.
Midway through the first period, Niagara's top line left winger, Ryan Murphy, was called for an elbowing major and the Falcons capitalized on the power play. Jason Fabian skated the puck into the zone and his shot was saved by NU goaltender Carsen Chubak. Ryan Timar skated down the weak side and put back the rebound for his third goal of the season and first career power play goal.
Niagara tied the game midway through the second period as Ryan Rashid took a shot that was saved by Jason Torf. However, Rashid regained the puck and scored his third of the season at the 9:02 mark. The Falcons answered three minutes later. Kyle De Laurell forced a turnover on the forecheck and Stephen Carew made a centering pass from the bottom of the left circle to Cole Gunner in front. Gunner's fourth of the season gave the Falcons a 2-1 lead at 12:23 of the second period.
Niagara scored two goals in the first five minutes of the third period to take a 3-2 lead. Hugo Turcotte scored when he redirected a shot by C.J. Chartrain 56 seconds into the period to tie the game at 2-2. Chris Lochner then scored on a rebound at 4:41for a 3-2 lead. The Falcons answered 30 seconds later as Scott Holm scored at the 5:11 mark. Ben Carey made a centering pass from behind the net and Holm netted his fourth of the season. With 8:02 left in the period, defenseman Matt Williams fired a wrister through traffic to give the Purple Eagles a 4-3 lead. Air Force pulled its goalie in the final 1:15 but was unable to tie the game.
Air Force outshot Niagara, 34-31, in the game and had a 15-9 advantage in the third period. Air Force was 1-for-3 on the power play while Niagara was 0-for-2. Jason Torf made 27 saves for the Falcons while Carsen Chubak made 31 for the Purple Eagles.
"This was a heckuva hockey game," head coach Frank Serratore said. "These were two darn good hockey teams that played tonight. I like our team right now. I like our spirit, togetherness and our effort. We knew we had to win the third period. Niagara is a team that plays with a lot of confidence and give them credit, they made the plays. What an entertaining hockey game this was. It was fast. It was physical, but clean. Our compete level and our attitude were terrific. I'll take my chances with our team if we keep playing like that."
Air Force returns home for a two-game series with Army, Friday-Saturday, Jan. 11-12, at the Cadet Ice Arena. The Friday night game is at 7:05 p.m. MT while the Saturday game is at 4:05 p.m. Saturday's game will be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network. --30--