HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — In a contest matching two of the three co-leaders in the CHA coming into the weekend, visiting Niagara rolled to a 5-2 victory over Alabama-Huntsville.
Both teams came out of their respective locker rooms flying. Niagara peppered Huntsville netminder Adam MaLean with six early shots, but it was an odd-man rush after a MacLean save that gave Huntsville the early 1-0 lead.
The Purple Eagles took three rapid shots at the Huntsville net, all three narrow misses, when Maclean got his blocker on the third shot and Huntsville raced into the Niagara zone and Huntsville’s Jason Tinwick stuck home a pass from Steve Milosevski and Doug Watkins at 8:00 of the first period.
Niagara controlled the first period of play, outshooting the Chargers 11-9 and having the better scoring chances, but puck luck was not on the side of the Purple Eagles and the Chargers took the 1-0 lead into the locker room.
The Purple Eagles’ luck turned in the second period. Captain Scott Crawford made a great individual play as, from his knees, he found Matt Ryan with a perfect pass and Ryan stuck the shot past a diving Maclean to even the score at 1-1.
The Purple Eagles controlled play for the next nine minutes, allowing Huntsville just one shot during that stretch, and Randy Harris, in the lineup for only the second time this season, scored off the faceoff on a pass from Ryan and Chris Sebastian to give the Purple Eagles a 2-1 lead.
Niagara was not finished scoring, as defenseman Mike Bozoian received a pass from Hannu Karru and fired a rocket of a shot towards the Charger net that MacLean was able to get in front of and knock onto the stick of Joe Tallari. Tallari unleashed a blast that beat MacLean high, giving Niagara the 3-1 lead to end the second period.
Niagara again dominated play for much of the third period, adding a goal by Nick Kormanyos (his seventh goal of the season, fifth in the last three games) at the 13:28 mark when he received a pass from Barret Ehgoetz and Shane Baylis.
Huntsville got a second goal on a weird shot from the faceoff circle to close the Charger gap to 4-2, but Niagara’s Chris Sebastian added a goal with 14 seconds left to close out the scoring.