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Niagara hockey comes through in playoff opener

WORCESTER, Mass. – The hot streak for Niagara’s men’s hockey team continued Friday as the 11th-seeded Purple Eagles upset No. 6 Holy Cross, 2-1, in the Hart Center.

It was the opening game in the best-of-three first round series in the Atlantic Hockey playoffs.

It was a strong third period for Niagara, which erased a one-goal deficit with goals from sophomore Kevin Patterson and freshman Luke Edwards.

Holy Cross took the 1-0 lead in the second when Matt Scarth tipped in a shot from Jake Bolton on the power play at 12:04. The officials reviewed the goal for a high stick, but ruled it a good goal.

Holy Cross held a 14-5 advantage in shots in the second and began to control the flow of play.

But Niagara came out strong in the third. Patterson tied the game early, connecting on a slap shot from inside the blue line at 4:29. Robert Angiolella and Stephen Peitrobon picked up the assists.

The Purple Eagles took a 2-1 lead at 10:10 when Edwards slid a backhand past Crusaders goalie Matt Ginn. Pietrobon and Angiolella again registered the assists.

“We were trying to stay in the moment because the guys were so hyped to start this new season,” Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. “We battled back from a goal down and made one more play than they did.”

Jackson Teichroeb finished with 31 saves as the sophomore netminder improved to 6-17-4 and is now 3-1-1 in his last five starts.

Niagara can advance to the quarterfinal round with a win Saturday when the teams meet again at 8 p.m. A Holy Cross win would force a deciding third game on Sunday.

While the opponent for Niagara or Holy Cross is to be determined based on first-round results, the advancing team would play on the road.