ROCHESTER – Niagara scored twice in the final 57 seconds, including a short-handed tally by Sam Rennaker with 11 seconds left, to shock Rochester Institute of Technology, 5-4, in the first game of their best-of-three Atlantic Hockey Conference first round series at the Gene Polisenni Center on Friday night.
The Purple Eagles (4-28-3) overcame a 3-1 first period deficit to end their 12-game losing streak. Niagara’s last win was 3-1 over Bentley on Jan. 14. RIT is 13-21-1.
The host Tigers struck for first period goals by Jordan Peacock and Danny Smith before Kris Spriggs of Niagara tallied at 15:25. Niko Kovachis and Christian Cakebreak assisted. RIT’s Liam Kerins tallied with 1:50 left in the period to restore the two-goal edge.
Niagara narrowed the deficit to 3-2 in the second on a goal by Stephen Pietrobon at 4:08 with an extra attacker on the ice because of a delayed penalty against RIT. Keegan Harvey and Spriggs assisted.
RIT’s Erik Brown scored his 16th of the season at 10:25. However, Vinny Muto got Niagara back within one on an assist from Johnny Curran with 3:55 left. Niagara pulled goalie Jackson Teichroeb for an extra skater and got the tying goal when Curran scored.
When Curran was called for goaltender interference Niagara’s hopes seemed over, but Rennaker got the short-handed tally, his sixth goal of the season, to give Niagara the upset.
Game Two of the series will be tonight at 7:05. A third game if needed will be at 7:05 Sunday at the RIT rink.