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Streaking Mironov leads Niagara to win

As the time ticks on the regular season, success becomes dependent upon upperclassmen.

For a good part of the year, the veterans for Niagara struggled to provide offensive contributions.

That trend is changing for the Purple Eagles, highlighted particularly by Egor Mironov.

The junior had two goals and two assists Saturday night to help Niagara to a 6-3 win and a two-game weekend sweep over College Hockey America foe Robert Morris in front of 1,041 in Dwyer Arena.

After enduring a six-game scoring drought from Nov. 22 to Jan. 9, Mironov has 14 points in the last eight games after going without a point in a six-game streak spanning Nov. 22 to Jan. 9.

"He's on one of those streaks that you hope doesn't end," Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. "Everything he touches is in the back of the net or someone is putting it in on a rebound. It's nothing fancy. He's playing so hard, finishing checks and he's a special player on the power play.

"We've been talking about it in the coaches' room all year wondering when we would start scoring like we used to. These are huge CHA points and we're getting down to only eight [regular season] games left. They're starting to come around and we need them to continue to score the way they are and at the pace they are."

Mironov's two assists came on the power play, which went 2 for 5. The unit has improved during the past few weeks, notching a goal in the last five games.

Playing with more freedom, the top unit has been able to generate scoring chances, score goals and change momentum.

"We've got five really skilled guys out there," Mironov said of his power-play unit. "The coach sets a couple of boundaries to follow but otherwise lets us get creative, lets us do whatever we think is necessary and lately it's paying off. I'm just doing the things that work and everybody else has been helping out a lot."

Robert Morris (5-17-4, 1-7-2) took a 1-0 lead at 10:49 when Jason Towsley fed a streaking Kyle Burton from behind the net.

Mironov then tied the game at 13:13, skating around one defender while the teams skated four-on-four.

He had the key play on the next Niagara goal, taking a huge slap shot that went off the post as the Purple Eagles enjoyed a five-on-three power play.

Ted Cook was alone to the side of the net to put home the rebound for a 2-1 Niagara lead at the end of the first.

The Purple Eagles (14-10-2, 7-2-1) started the second period with another five-on-three advantage, this time with Chris Moran netting the goal, set up by Tyler Gotto. Mironov picked up the second assist.

The lead went to 4-1 on an incredible individual effort by Vince Rocco, who stole the puck from a Robert Morris player behind the net, skated to the front and then scored while falling to his knees.

Rocco, the senior captain, had three points on the night.

The Colonials made it 4-2 late in the second but Niagara got some extra breathing room at 7:56 in the third when Sam Goodwin scored on a four-on-two rush.

Robert Morris made it 5-3 with 3:31 left to play when Chris Kushneriuk scored a short-handed breakaway goal.

Mironov added an empty-net goal with 2:16 to play.

e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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