HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Two goals by senior forward Kris Wiebe led Niagara (6-9-0, 1-3-0) to a 3-2 win over the Alabama-Huntsville (7-5-2, 5-1-0) Saturday at the Von Braun Center.
Handing the Chargers their first CHA loss of the season, the Purple Eagles overcame a two-goal deficit led by Wiebe’s two goals, his fourth and fifth of the season.
“We’ve been struggling with confidence, as of late, and were kind of looking for that spark,” Wiebe said. “Tonight we got a team effort and it’s good to get that first win under our belt.”
After goals by Huntsville forwards Bruce Mulherin and Grant Selinger, the Chargers took a 2-0 lead just over a minute into the second period.
Wiebe, lined with freshman Tayler Simpson and junior Justin Cross, put Niagara on the board at 3:16 of the middle period, putting a high shot over the glove of Huntsville goaltender Scott Munroe.
After Cross, who finished with two assists in the win, broke down the right boards and sent a drop pass to Wiebe in between the faceoff circles, Wiebe paused with the puck, placing a forehand shot at the last minute over the glove of Munroe.
The Purple Eagles’ pressure on the Chargers’ net in the second period paid dividends when junior forward Jason Williamson scored his second goal of the season at the 15:03 mark. Having his initial shot from the left side of the goal crease blocked by Munroe, Williamson nipped the puck underneath the left pad of the Huntsville goaltender, tying the game at 2.
With the score tied early in the third, Wiebe picked up the puck inside the right circle. Outmuscling a group of Huntsville players with the puck, Wiebe cut towards the Chargers’ net, placing a backhanded shot over the left shoulder of Munroe into the roof of the net for the game-winning goal, his second of the season, at 1:04 of the third period.
Niagara, aided by the strong play of sophomore goaltender Allen Barton, withstood the dangerous Huntsville attack, leading the conference with a 3.64 goals per game average, following Wiebe’s second goal. Killing two Charger power plays late in the contest, Barton sealed the victory with a clutch save on Huntsville senior captain Jared Ross with only seconds remaining.
As Ross, who broke the CHA’s all-time assists record with his 79th career assist in the loss, charged down the right boards towards the Niagara net with less than five seconds remaining in regulation, Barton stood his ground, deflecting Ross’ high shot into the corner and allowing time to expire.
Earning his first win of the season and making 28 saves, Barton credited his team for the shutout third period.
“The whole team came together and really played well in front of me,” Barton said.
Munroe, who suffered his first loss in conference play, made 30 saves for the Chargers.
After struggling on the power play in Friday’s loss, Niagara went 2-of-6 on the power play, killing all seven man advantages for Huntsville.