College Hockey:
Sigrist’s OT Goal Gives Niagara Come-From-Behind, 3-2 Win

Purple Eagles Take CHA Opener Against Air Force

— Bernie Sigrist’s goal late in overtime gave Niagara a 3-2 victory over Air Force on Friday, the Purple Eagles’ seventh straight win over the Falcons.

“This is a gut-wrenching loss,” Air Force coach Frank Serratore said. “To give up the lead in the third period and then give up an easy shot in overtime is as discouraging as it gets.”

“This game was like a nice prize fight,” Niagara coach Blaise MacDonald said. “Both teams played pretty determined, and we were fortunate to get a couple of opportunities at the end of the game.”

“We’re really starting to come together as a team,” Niagara’s John Heffernan said. “I really look to our line to score some goals, and it was nice to see that happen toward the end of the game.”

In the College Hockey America opener for both teams, the Falcons and the Purple Eagles seemed evenly matched during the first period, exchanging blows but neither ever scoring a hit.

That is, until 18:05, when strong skating and pure luck combined to give the Falcons first blood. On the breakaway, defenseman Brian Reaney and left wing Justin Hamilton brought the puck into the offensive zone. Niagara was able to break up the play, but Reaney got off a shot on Niagara netminder Rob Bonk, who just missed the save and allowed the puck to creep across the goal line.

Niagara fought back, though, and retaliated just over a minute later. With just 39 seconds remaining in the period and the Falcons on the power play, Niagara forward Chris Welch notched a shorthanded, unassisted goal to tie up the game at 1.

The battle continued throughout the second period. Air Force fought off two penalties, with senior goaltender Marc Kielkucki providing the backbone for a strong defense.

With just over two minutes remaining in the period, Air Force was able to capitalize on a Niagara holding penalty. Falcon defenseman Brian Rogers passed the puck over to Brian Reaney. Center Andy Berg was waiting at the back door for Reaney’s pass to beat goalie Rob Bonk and light the lamp for the Falcons. The period ended with Air Force having once more gained the advantage, 2-1.

Niagara came back early in the third period to tie the game once again. After several rapid-fire shots on Air Force goaltender Marc Kielkucki, Purple Eagle John Heffernan found the back of the net off assists from Sigrist and Hannu Karru.

“This is a difficult place to play in,” said MacDonald. “This win gives us some momentum, some confidence, and some energy to bring to tomorrow night’s game.”

As for the Falcons, Serratore said they will need to take some time to regroup.

“I’m not disappointed in their effort. The guys worked hard, we just didn’t get it done.”

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  • Anonymous

    The above scenario is a ‘snow-in-July’ one, most would agree. The CCHA, WCHA, and Hockey East outcomes ALL have to occur the way they’re drawn up; not just one or two of them. It falls under the ‘mathematically possible’ category, not the ‘realistically possible’ one.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve seen snow in July. Then again, I was at altitude.

      • bashful

        I regularly see snow in July at sea level….

  • Brodyjackson

    Well. My heart stopped for a brief moment.

  • Justin

    why even waste time figuring out this nonsense.

  • http://twitter.com/blackbear93 John Forsyth

    Realistically, ND and UNH are in. Mathematically, they can be eliminated.

    Between the 11 teams that are in and the AHA Champ, there are 12 spots taken. Cornell, Colgate, UAA, BSU and Northeastern all need autobids. Seven teams are eligible; three are playing and four are waiting. CC, Dartmouth and Western Michigan can play their way in or out. RPI, BU, Maine and UNO are waiting to see if they get an invite.

  • Brian the Brain

    Is Maine on the bubble? I can’t come up with a scenario where they get in.

    • Nick

      Yes they are

      • http://twitter.com/magnamaduin magnamaduin

        There are actually several scenarios in which Maine gets in. To help you find one, I’ll give you these hints:

        1. Title matchup MUST BE Yale vs. Cornell. It’s not impossible for Maine to get in with a Cornell title, but it is much, much easier if Yale wins it all. (Likely)

        2. Northeastern MUST BEAT BC and then MUST LOSE the title game. (Hard to say. Northeastern is playing for their lives and is playing damn good hockey, but BC is BC.)

        3. Bemidji State can win their next game, but MUST NOT ADVANCE to the title game. (Probable.)
        4. Alaska-Anchorage MUST BEAT Colorado College, and while the can advance to the title game they MUST NOT win it. (They aren’t a danger for the title, but I worry about how they match up against CC.)

        5. Western Michigan must lose BOTH their semifinal AND the consolation game. Not even a tie. (Possible. Easier for them to lose the first game than the second, though.)

        Have fun kids, Maine doesn’t care who does what here.

        Maine has a good chance to be in at #15 for five Hockey East teams in the NCAA tournament (I haven’t found a way to make Maine #15 without also making BU #14.)

        It is possible for Maine to rank as high as #13 (it’s actually not nearly as tall an order as it would be to knock out UNH, but is still really specific).

  • Irish Spectre

    NU is very dangerous lately, there’s no doubt about it, but, to give some perspective, thier record over their past 10 games is a modest 4-4-2, admitting that the opposiion in all of them has been the HE iron. Still, BC over their last 10 is 8-1-1, with the loss and tie (plus their BP win) coming at NU’s hands. Still, it’s a little bold to pick NU over BC this Fri. night.

  • Stal102

    I still have no idea why they’re on the bubble. No way the committee would deny a host team even if they were not in the top 16. Plus they are top ten in the polls

  • crazywhat

    Someone either has no life or is really upset that they were swept by Merrimack last weekend.

    • http://twitter.com/magnamaduin magnamaduin

      There’s no reason it couldn’t be both, but in truth it’s just the latter.

      I figured this out in 10 minutes. There’s nothing really arcane or time-consuming about the pairwise predictor; A caveman could do it.

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