LEWISTON, N.Y. — Freshman Dave Hominuk is a quick study.
The Niagara coaches did not know whether the 6-foot-2, 206-pound defenseman from Welland, Ontario, would play many, if any, games this season.
The Purple Eagles now have an idea of what the biochemistry major brings to the table as Hominuk’s first collegiate goal at 15:09 of the second period broke a 3-3 tie and allowed Niagara to beat Bemidji State 6-3 in a College Hockey America game at Dwyer Arena on Friday.
“He is self driven, self motivated. I’ve given him a few things to work on after practice and without question he worked on them every day,” Eagles coach Blaise MacDonald said. “He deserves a lot of credit for his effort and development, and he’s getting what he deserves. And he just got a 4.0 grade point average for the first semester.”
“I just kept at it and kept a positive attitude and kept working hard,” said Hominuk, who appeared in his fifth game of the season. “When you get your chance, you’ve got to play well.
Hominuk skated into a loose puck between the blue line and the left faceoff circle in the Beavers zone and overpowered goalie Grady Hunt (32 saves) to ignite a two-goal burst that allowed the Purple Eagles to grab sole possession of first place in the CHA with 11 points. Niagara (8-9-3, 5-1-1) scored 35 seconds later on the power play as sophomore Bernie Sigrist one-timed Randy Harris’s pass into the net, giving the Eagles their second two-goal lead of the game.
Drew Kriner scored his first career goal and added an assist, while Shaun Burkart and John Heffernaneach recorded one goal and one assist. Chris Sebastian also scored, while Sigrist recorded an assist. Freshman goalie Rob Bonk made 26 saves, improving his record to 8-6-2.
Jeff McGill scored twice for Bemidji (1-18-1, 1-7), while Marty Goulet’s goal at 6:11 of the second period tied the game at 3.
Kriner scored at 7:49 of the first to give the hosts the lead.
McGill one-timed a shot by Bonk 32 seconds into the second period off a 2-on-1 break. Sebastian gave NU a 2-1 lead 12 seconds later by snapping a shot through the pads of Hunt. Both teams combined for seven goals in the frame.
Heffernan gave Niagara a 3-1 lead at 3:00, but McGill scored off a giveaway at the side of the Niagara net46 seconds later. Goulet tied things when he snuck behind the defense and received Bryce Methven’s pass at the Eagles blue line. Goulet snapped a shot through Bonk’s legs.
Both teams combined for 49 shots through two periods and played very little defense. Niagara cleaned up its act in the third period, outshooting Bemidji 15-6. Burkart added an insurance goal at 13:41.
“We got in trouble because of our inability to play smart positionally without the puck,” MacDonald said. “We had too many guys watching away from the play instead of marking and finding their men and getting into proper defensive posture.”
The Eagles went 1-for-4 on the power play and killed off the Beavers’ only power-play attempt late in the third period. Niagara held a 41-29 advantage in shots.
“We’re still playing too much in our own zone and we’re giving up too many shots,” said lBemidji coach BobPeters, who dressed 16 freshmen and sophomores for the game.
The same two teams meet at 7 p.m. Saturday at Dwyer Arena.