When Canisius and Niagara meet for their home-and-home series next weekend, it will be a battle between the top two teams in Atlantic Hockey.
Niagara took over first place with a 5-2 win over Air Force in Colorado on Saturday night. Combined with their win over the Falcons on Friday, it was the first Niagara weep at Air Force since Feb. 18-19, 2005.
The win puts the Purple Eagles at 8-2-1 in Atlantic Hockey and 9-5-1 overall. Canisius is one point behind at 8-4-0
Niagara took a 1-0 lead just 26 seconds into the game on a goal from Zach Mills, set up by Ben Sokay.
In the second period, Air Force tied the game at 13:14, but a shorthanded tally from Nick Farmer just over a minute later put the Purple Eagles back in the lead. It was the fifth short-handed goal of the season for Niagara, tops in the NCAA.
That second-period shorthanded goal from Farmer - great individual play to make the breakup at center ice, hit the jets for the loose puck, and snipe glove-side. pic.twitter.com/ChEwB1wnAp
— Niagara Hockey (@NiagaraUHockey) December 3, 2017
Tanner Lomsnes finished a two-on-one from Sean King to extend Niagara’s lead to 3-1 late in the second period.
The Falcons (3-7-2 Atlantic Hockey, 7-8-3 overall) made it a one-goal game with 13:08 left but Niagara got a pair of empty-net goals to seccure the win.
Farmer scored his second of the game, with assists from Derian Plouffe and Chris Harpur, with 1:03 left, and Derek Brown scored with 49 seconds left, with an assist from Nicko Kovachis. It was the first two-goal game for Farmer, a junior.
Freshman Brian Wilson made 23 saves for the win and Niagara’s defense continued to be a strong suit. The Purple Eagles have not allowed a power play goal against in four games killing off their last 16 penalties.
The Purple Eagles will face off with Canisius, which remained at 8-4-0 in conference play, one point behind Niagara.
The Golden Griffins played their second non-conference game of the season, losing to third-ranked Clarkson, 5-1, in HarborCenter to fall to 8-5-1 overall.
After a scoreless first period, Clarkson (13-3-1) scored three goals in the first 6:47 of the second, getting tallies from Marly Quince, Sheldon Rempal, and Nico Sturm.
The Griffs got on the board when Felix Chamberland scored his third goal of the season at 15:17 with assists from Matt Hover and Grant Meyer. But Clarkson got two power play goals in the third, one from Rempal and another from Josh Dickinson, to secure the win.
Daniel Urbani recorded 31 saves for the Griffs in the loss as Clarkson held a 36-25 advantage in shots.
Niagara and Canisius meet for the first time this season at 7 p.m. Friday in Dwyer Arena. The series moves to HarborCenter for a 4:30 faceoff on Saturday.