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Ignagni continues stellar play as Niagara beats RIT again

ROCHESTER — Adrian Ignagni was dialed in.

The freshman made 29 saves on Friday night to earn his first collegiate shutout.

He let in one goal on Saturday night, making 40 saves as he backstopped the Niagara Purple Eagles to a 5-1 win over RIT in front of 1,680 at Ritter Arena.

It was a little bit of everything for Ignagni who made all kinds of saves – easy, in traffic, acrobatic and lucky – in the Atlantic Hockey matchup.

“I just thought to stay simple,” he said. “Don’t get too sporadic in there in the net. Don’t get too crazy. It kinda happened in the third but you’ve got to battle when you’ve got to battle. It was just staying simple.”

“He made big saves and then we scored on our opportunities which was the difference in the game,” Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. “He’s come a long way. He’s competitive. He was really aggressive.

“There were a couple times there were scrums in front of the net to the point I didn’t take my eyes off Iggy and he came flying out of the crease to make a big save. And he had confidence. He’s been struggling a little bit. He’s hard on himself. These are two huge wins for him.”

They were two huge wins for the team, too. The sweep of RIT is the first weekend sweep for Niagara since they took two from last-place Army back in November. That also was the last time Niagara had back-to-back wins.

“That’s two really good team wins and they need to feel that,” Burkholder said. “We needed to go through a weekend like that just for them to believe. We continue to say it on a daily basis – I think we have enough to win Atlantic Hockey. If we play like that it’s going to be a fun month and a half.”

The Purple Eagles jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the game. After killing off a penalty, they took advantage of energy and confidence. Just 3:45 into the game, Isaac Kohls scored, gathering a rebound off a shot from freshman Vince Muto and firing it past a sprawled Jordan Ruby.

Then Niagara was explosive at its own blueline, jumped on a loose puck and created a 2-on-1 opportunity with Sam Alfieri and Patrick Conte on the rush. Conte blasted a slapshot past Ruby to give Niagara the two-goal lead just 38 seconds later.

RIT cut it to 2-1 with a power-play goal just 2:07 into the second as Niagara was whistled for a pair of early penalties.

The Tigers threw 17 shots on Ignagni that period, but the freshman was solid. His teammates remained composed, too, jumping on their opportunities. Kohls scored his second of the game and 10th of the season at 6:07, firing a blast as he skated in the right faceoff circle that beat Ruby cleanly.

Conte also notched his second of the game at 16:04 of the period while TJ Sarcona gathered the puck off the wall for a breakaway attempt that he buried with just 26 seconds left in the period for a commanding 5-1 lead on the scoreboard.

It’s been a strong second semester for Kohls, dating back to a two-point night in a 5-3 win over Bentley Jan. 4. He has points in six of his last seven games and three goals this weekend against RIT.

Niagara travels to Sacred Heart for a pair of games, starting Friday night.