Feb 28, 2014 10:38 PM by Greg Smith
NIAGARA UNIV., N.Y. - Niagara hockey used four third-period goals to down visiting Air Force, 4-1, Saturday evening at Dwyer Arena.
Chris Lochner scored with 16:16 left in the third period to level the game at one apiece and trigger the four-goal period. Kevin Ryan and Matt Chartrain also scored in the third for the Purple Eagles while Patrick Divjak added an empty netter. Starting NU goaltender Jackson Teichroeb pushed aside 26 shots, including 15 in the second period.
"It was a good win. It may not have been a pretty game on either end, but I thought we got through the penalty trouble in the second period and then had fight in the third period which led to a big two points for us," head coach Dave Burkholder said. "Air Force is a championship program so for us to get it gone like we did is huge. Playoff hockey for us started three weeks ago. We challenged the guys at the start of the Canisius series and I've been happy with how we've played since then."
After a scoreless first period, Air Force (19-12-4; 14-9-3 AHA) put Teichroeb to the test by peppering him with 16 second-period shots while at the other end Air Force goalie Jason Torf only had four shot to push aside. The Colonials were able to draw first blood with five minutes left in the frame off the stick of A.J. Reid. Jason Fabian took a low shot from the left faceoff circle that Reid deflected on the backhand under the pads of Teichroeb for his fifth of the season.
The Niagara (11-17-5; 11-10-5 AHA) comeback started at 3:44 of the final period as the Purple Eagles leveled the game off Lochner's fifth goal of the season. With 39 seconds remaining on the man-advantage, Tyler Akeson had the initial shot to the right of Torf which was blocked in front and eventually cashed in on at the top of blue paint by Lochner to level the game.
Niagara then brought its fans to its feet twice in a 25 second span to grab a lead it would not relinquish. Ryan scored what would stand as the game-winning tally at 7:35 off a blast from the point for his fifth of the season. Chartrain followed that with his own tally, scoring his third of the season off a wrist shot that beat Torf far side over the shoulder.
Divjak would add the empty net goal in the final two minutes of the game to secure the victory.
The Purple Eagles went 1-for-2 on the power play, while shutting down all five man-up opportunities for Air Force. The shot count was in favor of the Falcons, 27-20.
Niagara and Air Force finish off the regular season tomorrow at Dwyer Arena with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop.