Ni­a­gara closes out Air Force

Wil­son stel­lar again in sweep of Fal­cons

The Buffalo News - - SPORTS -

Ni­a­gara struck for two even­strength goals in a span of 11 sec­onds in the sec­ond pe­riod Satur­day night and held on be­hind an­other stel­lar per­for­mance by goalie Brian Wil­son for a 5-4 vic­tory over Air Force. The vic­tory moved the Pur­ple Ea­gles on to the At­lantic Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion play­off semi­fi­nals start­ing Fri­day at Har­bor­center.

The Pur­ple Ea­gles clinched the best-of-three se­ries, 2-0, with the vic­tory af­ter win­ning the opener in over­time on Fri­day night, 3-2, be­hind 36 saves by Wil­son.

Satur­day night, Wil­son was even more bril­liant. The sopho­more from Pick­er­ing, Ont., made 18 saves in the sec­ond pe­riod when Ni­a­gara was out­shot, 19-2. In the third, he made an­other 14 stops at Ni­a­gara was out­shot, 15-3. In ad­di­tion, Wil­son’s team­mates blocked 23 shots in the game.

De­spite the wide mar­gin in play in the sec­ond pe­riod, the Pur­ple Ea­gles were able to snap a 3-3 tie on goals by Kris Spriggs at 16:47 and Nick Farmer at 16:58.

Tyler Hayes scored his first goal of the sea­son to give Ni­a­gara the first lead at 4:42 of the open­ing pe­riod. Air Force struck back for a 2-1 lead on goals by Matt Pul­ver and Walker Som­mer. Ni­a­gara took back the lead be­fore the first was over. Chris Harpur tied it with his sec­ond of the sea­son at 16:26. Then skat­ing 5 on 3 af­ter the sec­ond of two in­ter­fer­ence penal­ties against Air Force, Noah Del­mas needed only 6 sec­onds to find the net with Lud­wig Sten­lund get­ting the as­sist.

A power-play goal by Kieran Dur­gan tied it for Air Force at 8:53 of the sec­ond be­fore goals by Spriggs and Farmer put Ni­a­gara back in front.

RIT also had clinched a semi­fi­nal berth with its 3-1 win over Sa­cred Heart on Fri­day to win that se­ries, 2-1.

The Army at AIC and Robert Mor­ris at Bent­ley quar­ter­fi­nals se­ries are even at 1-1 and will be de­cided by games Sun­day.

Ni­a­gara (16-18-5) was the No. 6 seed. No. 3 Air Force (16-15-5) was at­tempt­ing to win its third At­lantic Hockey play­off cham­pi­onship in a row. Last sea­son, as the No. 9 seed, Ni­a­gara was elim­i­nated by No. 8 AIC.

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