HENRIETTA, NY- After a 5-0 loss in Game 2 of Atlantic Hockey’s first-round playoff series against RIT on Saturday night, Niagara Head Coach Dave Burkholder said that his team would need to show up if they wanted to win the decisive game on Sunday. The Purple Eagles did exactly that, upsetting the heavily favored Tigers with a 4-1 win to advance to the quarter-finals. Burkholder couldn’t have been more satisfied.
“Having to come to RIT, the defending champs, this ranks up there as one of the bigger wins in the history of the program in my opinion,” he said.
Like the night before, RIT came out swinging on Sunday and put pressure on Niagara early. Sam Valenzuela intercepted a breakout pass, but Jackson Teichroeb had his number and stopped him cold; and his team responded. Before the first minute of the game went by, Kris Spriggs made it 1-0 after a beautiful pass from Stephen Pietrobon. Less than three minutes later, Sam Rennaker buried one from the slot to give the Purple Eagles a two goal lead. From there, the story of the game for the Purple Eagles was their netminder.
Teichroeb has played his best hockey for Niagara in the postseason throughout his career, and Sunday was a shining example. RIT’s shots on goal more than doubled Niagara’s, but the Senior had an answer for all but one shot. Jordan Peacock halved the 2-0 lead five minutes into the second period, but that was all the Tigers would muster. Stan Dzakhov fired a one-timer past Mike Rotolo to give the Purple Eagles their two goal lead back in the third period, and he added an empty-net tally with 2:57 remaining to seal the upset.
Burkholder also said on Saturday night that Teichroeb would need to be on his game to win on Sunday, and that’s exactly the effort he got from his goalie.
“He needed to be our first star, he was,” said Burkholder.
Niagara moves on to the quarter-finals against their rivals, the top seeded Canisius Golden Griffins. The three game series will be this weekend at Harbor Center, starting Friday night. More information to come.
Photo courtesy of PurpleEagles.com