PLYMOUTH, Mich. — There’s an old clich that says someone was just “in the right place at the right time.”
Nick Kormanyos proved that theory Saturday night by breaking a 3-3 tie and leading his Niagara Purple Eagles past Wayne State at the Taylor SportsPlex. His game-winner was setup by Chris Welch, who found a wide-open Kormanyos parked to the left of Warriors’ netminder Matt Kelly.
“I got one shot on net and the rebound popped back out to Welch,” explained Kormanyos. “I yelled at him to get me the puck and he found me back-door and I put it in the empty net.”
Niagara has now swept WSU after beating the Warriors on Halloween night in Plymouth at the Compuware Sports Arena. In fact, the Purple Eagles have won four of the last five meetings, save for Wayne State’s come-from-behind win in the College Hockey America Tournament last March.
The game itself saw weird bounces, players falling all over the ice and Wayne State rally from a 3-0 deficit.
“Welcome to the CHA,” laughed NU head coach Dave Burkholder. “That just shows you what our league is in for this year.”
Jordan Meloff got the visitors from New York on the board just 69 seconds into the game when he tipped Welch’s shot past Kelly.
Barrett Ehgoetz then skated behind the Wayne State defense and took a long lead pass from Casey Handrahan that resulted in a partial breakaway that saw Kelly bite on a deke and leave his net open for Ehgoetz to tap the puck in at 11:14.
Niagara made it 3-0 at 14:16 when Joe Tallari stripped a WSU defender at the blue line and walked in on Kelly. Welch trailed the play and put a bouncing puck on net that Kelly juggled until it fell into the net.
“We came out fast and got a great lead,” said Burkholder. “But then we sat back and allowed Wayne State to get back in it.”
Chris Vail started the comeback when he beat NU goalie Jeff VanNynatten on a breakaway at 16:56.
The second period went scoreless.
In the third, John May scored 41 seconds in and then Vail tallied a power-play goal at 11:45. That set the stage for Kormanyos’ heroics at 15:29.
“We played two strong periods tonight instead of one last week,” said Wayne State head coach Bill Wilkinson. “Now all I have to do is teach these kids to play three periods in a row with the same intensity and we’ll be in business.”
Burkholder said the difference in the game wasn’t one goal, but an entire period.
“In the third period, we started to win shifts again,” Burkholder said. “Taking two points on the road is no easy task and I give full credit to my guys. They beat a tough Wayne State team after our power play let us down last night (at Bowling Green).”
Kormanyos echoed his coach.
“We’ll look back in March and be glad we have these two points,” he concluded.
Niagara (4-3-0, 2-0-0 CHA) hosts Western Michigan next weekend while WSU (1-3-2, 0-2-0 CHA) plays a home-and-home with Findlay starting Friday night in northern Ohio and ending Sunday afternoon in Plymouth.