DETROIT — To say the Wayne State Warriors have not had a lot of luck lately against the Niagara Purple Eagles would be a vast understatement.
The No. 17 Eagles have won the previous four meetings this season by a combined score of 16-7. And in the last 20 meetings since 2003, the Green and Gold have only won three games.
Friday night, the tables were turned and the Warriors cruised to a 6-1 victory.
Wayne State broke the ice at 9:21 of the opening period.
Blueliner Ryan Bernardi walked from the boards into the middle of the blueline and wrested a shot on net. Senior Jason Bloomingburg deflected the waist high shot past NU goalie Juliano Pagliero for his team high ninth goal of the season.
Reigning CHA Rookie of the Week Jared Katz picked up the second assist.
At 18:03 the Warriors took advantage of a 5-on-3 edge as Jon Grabarek rifled in a shot from just inside the blueline, through traffic to make a 2-0 game.
Then with just 25 seconds left in the period the Warriors increased their lead to 3-0.
Bloomingburg led the Green and Gold in on a rush and dropped a pass for Katz. Katz zoomed into the left faceoff circle, crossed into the slot and ripped in his ninth of the year.
WSU outshot NU 12-3 in the opening 20 minutes.
Wayne State kept up the pressure in the second and at 4:15 Mark Cannon held onto the puck on a 2-on-1 and fired in the short side for a 4-0 WSU lead.
The Eagles finally got on the board with the help of their always dangerous power-play at 9:38 of the second.
Pat Oliveto passed the puck across the blue line to Sean Bentivoglio. Bentivoglio threw a quick pass down to Ted Cook who nailed it passed WSU goalie Will Hooper for goal number 28 on the season-tops in the nation.
Wayne State responded with two more quick goals to take a 6-1 lead.
Just seconds into a power-play, Nate Higgins walked in off the goal line and fired the puck upstairs and off the cross bar for number 9 on the season.
30 seconds later Bloomingburg scored as Higgins fed him a cross ice pass on a 2-on-1 and he slid until Pagliero for his second of the night.
That was enough for Eagles coach Dave Burkholder who called timeout and pulled Pagliero in favor of Allen Barton.
Pagliero finished the night with nine saves on 15 shots.
The intensity was raised in the third period with seven penalties called on the two team, but neither team could score and the Warriors beat the Eagles for the first time this season.
Will Hopper got his second straight win between the pipes for Wayne State, stopping 20 of 21 shots.
Barton was perfect in relief of Pagliero and stopped all 10 shots he faced.
The loss was third in a row for the Eagles who drop to 17-11-3 overall and 8-4-3 in conference.
“I was hoping we’d refresh and come back hard after our week off,” said Eagles coach Dave Burkholder. “We didn’t play very hard in the first and in the second period we didn’t give ourselves the chance for a comeback. Obviously the most important hockey is still to come and we’ll get better.”
Wayne State improves to 9-20-0 after the win and 5-10-0 overall. The Warriors are also now 6-6-0 in the chilly confines of the Coliseum.
“On home ice things are easier for us, “said winning goalie Will Hooper. “We’re used to the conditions and we’re happy to finally get them in our barn. We got off to a good start, scored early, killed penalties, and blocked a lot of shots. We’ve been turning the corner lately and playing a lot better as a team.
The Warriors and Purple Eagles will conclude their two-game set with a 7:05 PM face-off back at the Coliseum in Detroit on Saturday night.