Niagara men’s hockey got out to a poor start to postseason play, giving up a pair of power play goals in a 4-1 loss to American International in the first game of the Atlantic Hockey Tournament first round in Springfield, Mass.
The Yellow Jackets got out a gradual 3-0 lead, scoring in the first period, second and early in the third. Hugo Reinhardt scored AIC’s second and third goals, pushing his total to seven on the season.
Darius Davidson scored the first Yellow Jacket goal, capitalizing on a rebound off a shot from Ryan Polin.
Reinhardt was in the right place at the right time for both his goals, tipping them past Niagara goalie Brian Wilson.
Noah Delmas scored the lone goal for Niagara, his fourth of the season, to cut the score to 3-1 with 5:47 remaining in regulation.
AIC’s fourth goal, scored by Brennan Kapcheck with two minutes remaining, was on an empty net.
AIC made the most of its opportunities, as the Yellow Jackets were outshot, 36-22. Wilson made 18 saves for the Purple Eagles, who are looking to win an Atlantic Hockey postseason series for a second consecutive season.
Yellow Jackets goalie Stefano Durante made 35 saves.
The Purple Eagles need to defeat AIC this afternoon to force a deciding game three Sunday. Faceoff is set for 1:05 p.m. Sunday’s game, if necessary, will be at the same time.
The victory gives AIC its first lead in a postseason best-of-three series in the history of the program. The Yellow Jackets also set a new Division I program high for victories in a season with its 13th.
The entire series is being played at AIC’s home rink, the MassMutual Center, in Springfield, Mass. This is AIC’s first postseason home series as a Division I program.