It was an off night for the Niagara offense. After breaking out six goals on Friday night, the Purple Eagles managed just one late tally on Saturday night, dropping a 3-1 decision to Bentley at Dwyer Arena.
While the Purple Eagles had a 24-20 advantage in shots, they couldn't generate many scoring chances and few with the hope of a rebound or classic "dirty goal" scenario. On Friday night, they scored five goals in front of the net and added an empty netter in a 6-4 win.
If only Dave Burkholder's players would go to the crease more consistently.
"Again it’s another night where I thought their goalie just had an easy night," the head coach said. "We’re not around the cage. We’re not tough in the men’s club. It’s an easy night for him. Unfortunately we didn’t test him enough. We had 56 attempts but certainly not enough time where you win hockey games." Friday "we scored five goals in prime scoring area, the men’s club. And tonight we just wouldn’t go there."
Bentley scored a goal in each period to build a 3-0 lead. Gabe Antoni was pitching a shut out until Dan Kolenda scored with 59 seconds left. Antoni finished with 23 saves.
The opening minute: It only took 30 seconds for Bentley to get on the board. Niagara wasn't sharp with the puck at its own blue line and lost possession. The Falcons took advantage and Max French drilled a puck over Joe O'Brien's glove for a 1-0 lead. It was the 10th goal of the season for the junior center.
That was no goal: After sustaining some good pressure around the top of the Bentley crease, it looked as if Niagara had tied the game with 12:55 left in the second on a Stephen Pietrobon goal. But officials reviewed the goal and quickly ruled it was kicked in, waiving off the tally.
"The reaction from Stephen, it definitely was a kicking motion but he was trying to whack at it," Burkholder said. "I have not seen it on video but based on Stephen’s reaction on the bench, I think they made the right call.
Flurry of opportunities: While the video review went against Niagara, it didn't diminish the momentum the Purple Eagles were generating. They earned a power play and created some quality offensive opportunities, although not official shots on goal. When they didn't cash in there, Luke Edwards found himself on a partial break, but hit the post with 9:25 left in the second.
The dagger goal: Just 46 seconds after Edwards hit the post, Bentley took a 2-0 lead when Drew Callin scored.
The opening minute, take two: Just four seconds into the third Bentley grabbed a 3-0 lead. Callin was all alone in front of the net and got three whacks at the puck, with no defensemen near him, and finally got it past O'Brien.
Game misconduct: Niagara Freshman Devin Campbell was given a five-minute penalty for boarding and a game misconduct when he hit Bentley sophomore forward Andrew McDonald as the two were going full speed into the corner of the Niagara defensive zone at 7:53 of the third. McDonald was on the ice for sometime and needed a great deal of assistance to return to the bench.
"First and foremost, the guy that took the hit from Campbell, we’re hoping that he’s okay but it looked like a hockey play. Two guys battling and the big guy goes to the box," Burkholder said.
Records: Bentley improved to 5-3-1 in Atlantic Hockey and 7-7-1 overall. Niagara fell to 2-5-1 in conference play and 2-10-2 overall.
Counting the house: A moderate crowd was on hand at Dwyer with an announced attendance of 835.
Up next: Niagara has a home-and-home series with regional rival RIT. The teams play in Rochester on Friday, Dec. 11 and then at Dwyer Arena on Saturday, Dec. 12. Those are the last two games for the Purple Eagles before the semester break.