LEWISTON – Niagara and Air Force were scoreless after the first period Friday night at Dwyer Arena, but things went downhill quickly from there for the Purple Eagles.
Air Force’s Erik Baskin scored his first of two goals on the night less than a minute into the second period, and the Falcons never looked back on the way to a 6-1 Atlantic Hockey win.
The Falcons’ top line of Baskin, center Tyler Ledford and left winger Ben Kucera was too much for the Purple Eagles to handle, combining for eight points. A power-play goal by Ben Carey put Air Force (17-11-5 overall, 15-7-5 AHC) up 2-0 before Kucera scored two in a row to chase Purple Eagles starting goalie Guillaume Therien, who gave up four goals on 15 shots before being pulled 9:38 into the second period. He was replaced by Jackson Teichroeb.
Niagara’s lone goal of the game came in the third period from Sam Rennaker with assists from Niko Kovachis and Matt Chiarantano that cut Air Force’s lead to 4-1. An unassisted goal by Evan Okeley pushed Air Force’s lead back to four goals before Baskin closed out the scoring. Air Force outshot the Purple Eagles, 28-17. The Falcons remained three points behind Robert Morris, which was victorious at Canisius on Friday, in the Atlantic Hockey standings.
The two teams wrap up their two-game set at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in the final home game of the season for Niagara, which will celebrate Senior Night. Niagara’s five seniors are forward Dan Kolenda, defensemen Matt Chiarantano, Matt Dineen, and Nick Cecere and goaltender Chris Paulin.
Elsewhere, the University at Buffalo women’s swimming and diving team is in fourth place after the third day of the Mid-American Conference championships at Bowling Green’s Cooper Pool. The Bulls’ Megan Burns placed third in the 200-yard freestyle final, with a season-best time of 1 minute, 48.98 seconds. The Bulls had 10 swimmers qualify for Friday’s finals sessions, while Abbey Croce won the 3-meter dive consolation finals. Mackenzie Moss will compete in the 3-meter dive finals Saturday.
UB’s Sarah Baxter also added to the Bulls’ team score of 276 with a win in the 200 free consolation finals with a time of 1:50.21. Akron leads with a total of 494.50 points heading into the final day of competition.