LEWISTON, N.Y. — It was an anomalous night at Dwyer Arena, that’s for sure.
And for the record, there was a game played between Niagara and Clarkson – won 2-1 by the Golden Knights before 1,389 fans on a somewhat balmy evening for these parts.
It was a happy and sad time on Saturday evening for the Niagara hockey program, but it was also a night in which a mystery was born regarding one of Niagara’s paramount players.
Happiness: The Purple Eagles raised two banners – one commemorating last seasons’ Atlantic Hockey regular-season championship – and another for their fourth NCAA appearance.
Sadness: The Purple Eagles’ season started with a loss, which also ended their 22-game home unbeaten streak.
Mysterious: Senior Ryan Murphy missed the game for what Niagara officials said were personal reasons. The question is what the personal reasons are and when will he be back.
Niagara coach Dave Burkholder – when asked if Murphy was still officially on the team and still enrolled in school – said he was. When questioned if Murphy was skating, he said that is all he had for the assembled media.
The game: The Golden Knights badly outshot Niagara, 40-21, but needed a late goal from Jarrett Burton to get the victory.
With the score tied at one, Burton banged a loose puck past Niagara goaltender Jackson Teichroeb to give Clarkson a 2-1 lead with 5:43 to go in the game.
“It was a broken down play,” Burton said. “One of our defenseman, Kevin Tansey, made a good move around a defenseman and tried to get a shot on the net. I believe it hit off of a shinpad and wound up landing on my stick.”
Earlier, Niagara took a 1-0 lead at 7:19 of the second period when Mike Conderman skated in from the red line, went wide around a Clarkson defender, whirled speedily around the net and tucked the puck between Clarkson goaltender Greg Lewis’ skate and the post.
“I got a puck on the left wing and I was able to get by a defenseman,” Conderman said. “I saw the goalie cheat and when I came in, he was down already, so I faked like I was going to cut in, but I wrapped around.”
Clarkson tied the game 1-1 three minutes later when defenseman Paul Geiger’s shot from the point went wide, but Allan McPherson corralled the rebound off of the boards and stuffed the puck past Teichroeb.
The potentially good news for Niagara on Saturday was the work of Teichroeb, who was sturdy in his first collegiate game.
“Going into the game, obviously, the main goal is to win the game, which sucks tonight because we didn’t get the ‘W,’” said Teichroeb, who recorded 39 saves. “I felt like I played pretty good. That’s about it.”
Burkholder witnessed goaltenders Chris Noonan and Carsen Chubak glitter for the Purple Eagles the last two seasons and liked what he saw out of Teichroeb.
“So impressed with Jackson, he was the star of the game,” said Burkholder. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win for him. He was highly decorated out of junior. We thought he was going to be really good. If that is the start of it, we are going to be in really good shape.”
For Clarkson, which won only nine games last season, but has its top seven scorers back – it was a momentous way to start the season with a road victory over a quality opponent.
“They [Niagara] are a great squad [and] we knew that last year from playing them twice,” Burton said. “But we have all the confidence in the world in our guys. That is all that matters to us right now.”
The two teams meet again on Sunday at 2 p.m. EDT
NOTES: Niagara’s Chris Lochner (facemask) and Clarkson’s A.J. Fossen (head butting) were both given game misconducts and ejected at 13:04 of the second period. ... After hosting Clarkson again on Sunday, Niagara plays 13 of its next 15 games on the road, including an eight-game stretch from Nov. 19 to Jan. 4.