Three things from the weekend that was in Atlantic Hockey:
There was a time when Niagara’s Dwyer Arena was a house of horrors for opposing teams. Twice in the last decade the Purple Eagles put together home unbeaten streaks of 22 games that spanned multiple seasons.
But the past two seasons have been a different story, with Niagara managing just a pair of wins on home ice each year. The Purple Eagles hadn’t won their home opener since the 2007-08 season.
New coach, new season, new result. Niagara, picked to finish last in Atlantic Hockey, opened its home schedule with a 4-3 overtime win against Robert Morris, the team expected to finish second.
NU’s Derian Plouffe scored just 2:26 into the contest, and the Purple Eagles took a 3-1 lead late into the final period. But RMU rallied with Brady Ferguson’s second of the game with about five minutes left, and then tied it on an extra-attacker tally by Alex Tonge with just 1:27 left.
But Tanner Lomsnes won it midway through the extra frame, setting off a wild celebration and giving coach Jason Lammers his first collegiate win.
Is the Dwyer magic back? It’ll be put to the test in two weeks when Rensselaer and No. 16 Union come calling.
Three out of four ain’t bad
Defending Atlantic Hockey champion Air Force put its preseason No. 17 ranking on the line with a trip to Alaska this past weekend.
In a pair of tightly contested contests, the Falcons came away with a 3-2 win and a 1-1 tie.
“This is a tough place to get points, but this is the way you want to start out,” said Air Force coach Frank Serratore after Saturday’s tie. “We need to learn to manage the game better and we need to not beat ourselves. But we did a lot of good things.”
The question of who would replace all-star goalie Shane Starrett was answered, at least for now. Junior Billy Christopoulos stopped 57 of 60 shots he faced including 36 saves in Friday’s 3-2 win, when the Nanooks outshot the Falcons 34-26.
“Our MVP for the weekend was Billy Christopoulos,” said Serratore. “He was very good this weekend.”
Air Force opens the home portion of its schedule this weekend when it hosts Arizona State for a pair of games.
The points that Serratore was referring to weren’t real, of course. The win and tie for his Falcons came in a non-conference series.
But real points were on the line as Army West Point and American International kicked off their seasons with an Atlantic Hockey series, and AWP took all four.
On Friday, the Black Knights cruised to a 5-1 win behind four points from sophomore Michael Wilson, who had a goal and three assists.
Saturday was closely contested, with Army West Point eking out a 2-1 win. All three goals were scored in the second period, with Brendan Soucie getting the game winner at the 12:17 mark.
Like Air Force, Army must replace an all-star netminder, in this case the graduated Parker Gahagen. Senior Cole Bruns started both games and was excellent. American International outshot Army West Point in both contests, 30-21 on Friday and 35-21 on Saturday, but Bruns made a combined 63 saves.