PLYMOUTH, Mich. — Still riding the emotional high of beating New Hampshire last weekend, Niagara beat Wayne State, 4-1, Friday night for the first time in Michigan.
Niagara has also won three of the last four meetings with the Warriors dating back to last February with the lone loss coming in the College Hockey America tournament in March.
“The CHA is a wide-open league and this win is huge for us,” said Niagara head coach Dave Burkholder. “It’s two points in the bank and I hope they’ll mean something come next March.”
Freshman Jeremy Hall staked NU (2-2-0 overall, 1-0-0 CHA) to a 1-0 lead at the 12:46 mark of the first period by banging in a loose puck at the top of the crease. Junior tri-captain Barrett Ehgoetz made it 2-0 by beating WSU sophomore goalie Matt Kelly glove-side with a backhand from in tight at 14:07.
“The last couple games we’ve battled hard and kept the intensity going for the full sixty (minutes),” Ehgoetz said. “We haven’t had any real breakdowns and if the other team does, we jump all over them.”
Ehgoetz then made it 3-0 for the Purple Eagles at 4:36 of the middle period on a nice feed from senior Chris Welch. Hall then scored on a Niagara man-advantage at 11:49 on a fancy tip inside the right post.
Wayne State freshman Jason Baclig was then credited with a goal when a Niagara defender put the puck in his own net at 12:25.
The third period was scoreless.
Niagara freshmen Sean Bentivoglio and Pat Oliveto each recorded two assists on the night.
“This was a very good road game for us,” Burkholder said. “We chipped pucks out, we got the puck deep and we got traffic in front of their goalie all night. Some of the goals were ugly and normally that’s what we’re used to scoring, but tonight we made them count.”
Niagara senior goalie Rob Bonk, from nearby Fenton, made 21 saves for the win. Kelly finished with 33 saves for WSU (1-2-2 overall, 0-1-0 CHA).
“Our ‘D’ played well tonight,” said Bonk. “They let me see every shot and I felt really good out there and I think it showed.”
Sophomore Jeff Van Nynatten will start Saturday night at Michigan against the No. 3-ranked Wolverines. He and Bonk have split time in net for the early part of the season.
“It’s going to be a fast game and we’ll be loose,” Burkholder said. “It’s a great hockey atmosphere up there in Ann Arbor and we’re going to enjoy it as a team. We’ll see what happens.”
Wayne State hosts Niagara again next Saturday at the Taylor SportsPlex in Taylor, Mich.