Niagara’s Stanislav Dzakhov recorded his first career hat trick to help the Purple Eagles rebound from Friday’s 3-1 loss at Holy Cross with a dominating 6-0 shutout over the Crusaders Saturday.
Dzakhov scored twice in a four-goal first period for Niagara (11-13-2, 10-8-2) and then added his final goal midway through the third period to put the Purple Eagles up, 5-0.
The win, combined with Canisius’ 2-0 loss at RIT Saturday, moved Niagara within two points of Holy Cross (10-9-7, 9-5-6) and the Golden Griffins (12-10-2, 12-6) atop the Atlantic Hockey standings.
Also recording multiple points for the Purple Eagles Saturday were Kris Spriggs with a goal and an assist and Nic Mussi and Nick Farmer with two assists each.
Captain Derian Plouffe, who along with teammate Noah Delmas are two of 74 nominees for the 2018 Hobey Baker Award, scored with 5:45 to go in the first period to make it 3-0.
Scoring Niagara’s sixth and final goal was Sean King. It was his first weekend back after missing eight games due to injury.
Chris Harpur, Tyler Hayes, Eric Cooley, Justin Kendall and Jack Zielinski each added one assist for Niagara.
Freshman goaltender Brian Wilson made 26 saves to earn the win in his 21st consecutive start. The Purple Eagles had 41 shots on goal.
Niagara hosts Air Force next Friday and Saturday at 7:05 p.m.
The Purple Eagles visited the Falcons in Colorado on Dec. 1 and 2 and came away with convincing 6-3 and 5-2 AHC wins.
Canisius was outshot by a considerable margin as RIT (9-12-2, 8-8-1) earned the weekend series split with a shutout of its own.
Griffs sophomore Daniel Urbani stopped 31 of 33 shots on goal, while Tigers netminder Ian Andriano faced only 12 shots. The attempts were 64-40 in favor of RIT.
Erik Brown scored both goals for the winners. His first came 9:55 into the opening period, and he doubled the lead just 30 seconds out of the first intermission.
Canisius heads to Bentley next weekend for a 7:05 p.m. game Friday and a 4:05 p.m. puck drop Saturday.
The Griffs dominated Bentley when it visited HarborCenter in November. Canisius swept the weekend series with 5-1 and 5-2 wins.