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Niagara won the battles, but lost the game

LEWISTON -- There were many areas where Niagara was solid. The Purple Eagles won the shots-on-goal battle. They had more shots attempted and had more wins in the faceoff circle. Their penalty kill was outstanding.

But they didn't get themselves to the front of the net. They didn't go to the dirty areas, the place coach Dave Burkholder called "the men's club" and therefore they didn't score. Not until it was too late and the game was all but decided.

Bentley won the only category that matters, goals, leaving Dwyer Arena with a 3-1 win and series split Saturday night.

"Again it’s another night where I thought their goalie just had an easy night," Burkholder said. "We’re not around the cage. We’re not tough in the men’s club. It’s an easy night for him. Unfortunately we didn’t test him enough. We had 56 attempts but certainly not enough time where you win hockey games. Yesterday we scored five goals in prime scoring area, the men’s club. All five. And tonight we just wouldn’t go there."

Friday night the Purple Eagles came up with a 6-4 win against Bentley, the final goal an empty-net tally. Seven different players collected points in the win.

Saturday, Niagara didn't get on the board until they were already trailing, 3-0. With the extra attacker, Dan Kolenda scored with 59 seconds left as the Purple Eagles avoided their second shutout of the season.

It was a disappointing game after the high of Friday night's win, but with a glimmer of good news. Niagara killed off all five Bentley power plays over the weekend, including a five-minute major when Devin Campbell was called for boarding and given a game misconduct at 7:53 of the third.

"It’s a point of emphasis in practice and it’s just guys taking a little more pride," Burkholder said. "I wills say this, I think a lot of it has to do with," TJ "Sarcona being back. He’s back and we did gain moment on our kills."

Niagara held a 24-20 advantage in shots on Saturday and went 39-24 on faceoffs.

"They made plays and we didn’t," Burkholder said. "We’re a hard-working crew. I’ll say that it’s another night where you win the shot game, the faceoff game, the penalty game and you have nothing to show for it. Sometimes you tip your hat to all-league players which they have."

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