BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The Niagara Purple Eagles got an outstanding performance from their senior goaltender Juliano Pagliero, as the Alberta native turned aside 47 shots in a 3-3 tie against the Bowling Green Falcons on Saturday night at the BG Ice Arena. Pagliero was continually peppered by the Falcon offense throughout the 65 minutes of play, but the netminder consistently stopped most everything that came his way.
“I’m proud of how we hung in there,” said Niagara coach Dave Burkholder. “[Bowling Green's] overall team speed was — quite frankly — overwhelming at times, but Juliano Pagliero played like a senior and stole us a point on the road.
“He looked square and saw everything. [BG is] so dangerous from below the goal line. They create all their offense from below the goal line which is very hard on a goalie. But there were lots of shots from the point that he was square, and whether he saw them or not, they were hitting him.”
For the second straight year, Pagliano was able to frustrate the Falcon offense. Last year, he backstopped his team to a 2-0 shutout of the brown and orange.
“In the last two years, we’ve had 95 shots on goal against [Pagliero] and three goals against him,” said BG head coach Scott Paluch. “He did the same thing to us last year. He’s a terrific goalie.
“We wanted to get traffic in front of Pagliero, and I thought we did. He just made a lot of saves.”
“After facing 50 shots, to come out with a tie is pretty remarkable,” added Falcon sophomore David Solway. “The same thing happened last year when we played him. He just stood on his head. There’s nothing you can really say about that. It was a great game out of him. In overtime, we ripped the bar and got different shots on him, but he stayed strong.”
The Falcons had a number of chances to score a winner in overtime, but some bad luck and good goaltending stymied their effort. Besides a crossbar, and a puck through the crease that just missed settling into the net, Pagliero turned aside four big shots in the extra period to preserve the tie for his Purple Eagles.
“We’re very disappointed that we didn’t win because we did so many things that we had to do,” said Paluch. “But, we played very good hockey this weekend. We generated a ton of scoring chances.”
Falcon goaltender Jimmy Spratt once again shook off a tenuous start, settling down to play a strong game for the final two periods of regulation and the overtime. After giving up three goals on the first three shots he faced, the senior goaltender settled down to play shutout hockey the rest of the way.
“When you look late in the third and especially into overtime, he made some terrific saves,” remarked Paluch. “He bounced back, much like he did yesterday. He played really well down the stretch.”
Niagara jumped out to a quick lead, scoring at 3:06 of the opening period. Skating with a two-man advantage, junior center Chris Moran notched his third goal of the year, taking a nice pass from Ryan Annesely, and slapping it past Spratt for the 1-0 Niagara lead. Tyler Gotto added an assist.
The Falcons would tie the game at 6:36 of the period with a power play tally of their own. James Perkin was the recipient of a nice feed from between the circles by teammate Jacob Cepis. Perkin flipped a wrister, beating Juliano Pagliero glove side for his first goal of the season.
The Purple Eagles regained the lead at 13:32. Moran scored his second marker of the night, deking his way around a BG defender, pulling his shot back, and flipping it over the glove of Spratt. Vince Rocco and Vince Burichin assisted on the goal.
“Chris Moran’s start to the year has been unbelievable,” said Burkholder. “Our first four goals, he’s got them all. Hopefully, it’s time for some other people to chip in and get us help from some other lines.”
Junior defenseman Ryan Annesley would give his Eagles a two-goal cushion just over a minute later, driving a shot through traffic from the point for his first goal of the season. The Falcons pulled to within 3-2 early in the middle stanza.
Junior Josh Boyd made the most of his first game of the season, tipping in a loose puck off the shot of Kevin Schmidt for his first goal of the year. The Falcons tied the game late in the third period off of a rebound. Dan Sexton drove a shot on Pagliero, hitting the netminder in the chest. The puck bounced to Pagliero’s left, where David Solway was waiting. He dished the puck into the net for his first of the year.
Niagara finished the night 1-on-4 on the power play, while the Falcons ended the night 1-for-6.
BG’s Jimmy Spratt finished the night with 15 saves for the Falcons.