LEWISTON, N.Y. — Niagara extended the nation’s longest home-unbeaten streak to 18 games in front of a record crowd inside Dwyer Arena, Thursday, with a 2-0 victory over Bowling Green. Junior goaltender Juliano Pagliero made 32 saves for his second career shutout.
A record 1,848 fans, including a record 632 students, packed the purple palace to help propel the Purple Eagles to the win, giving Niagara head coach Dave Burkholder and his club a 16-0-2 mark at home since Feb. 10, 2006. The Dayton University Pep Band also made the trip to provide an electric atmosphere in the Dwyer.
“That is the most fired up that I have ever seen a crowd here,” Burkholder said. “To say that we accomplished this Dwyer run of 18 games is something incredible.”
Pagliero was the star of the night, stopping all 32 shots throw at him from a speedy and feisty Falcon squad. The netminder made 13 saves in the first period, eight in the middle frame and 11 in the third stanza for his first win of the year.
“Pagliero was great (Thursday night),” Burkholder added. “Everything he saw, he handled. He was the difference tonight.”
The junior goaltender was tested late in the second period when Bowling Green had a 5-on-3 opportunity with Niagara leading 1-0. Pagliero made four stops, including two right on the door step to keep the Purple Eagle lead.
“I saw everything pretty well tonight,” Pagliero said, “but I have to thank the guys up front. Everyone in front of me played terrific tonight.”
Three Purple Eagles were responsible for the pair of power-play goals for Niagara. Junior Kyle Rogers and senior Matt Caruana each had a goal and an assist, while sophomore defenseman Tyler Gotto picked up a pair of helpers in the win.
Niagara got on the board four minutes into the second period while on the man advantage. Gotto sent the puck to Caruana at the point, and the co-captain fired a rocket toward the net. Rogers got a stick in front of the Falcon goaltender to deflect it home for the 1-0 lead.
Midway through the third period, the trio combined again for a power-play tally. This time Gotto got the cylinder to Rogers in front of the net. His initial shot was stopped, but Caruana was there to pound the rebound home for his second goal of the season.
Rogers, Caruana and Gotto are the only three players to record a point in all three games in the early part of the season. Rogers leads the team with five points, while Caruana and Gotto rank second with four.
The Eagles move to 2-1-0 on the season while Bowling Green opened it’s season.
The Purple Eagles are back in action at the Dwyer with a two-game set with Western Michigan, Oct. 26-27. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m.