Pur­ple Ea­gles seek ti­tle game spot

The Buffalo News - - SPORTS - NEWS STAFF RE­PORT

At­lantic Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion Tour­na­ment semi­fi­nal vs. RIT. Where: Har­bor­center. Face­off: 7:30. Ra­dio: WLVL 1340 AM, 105.3 FM

Live video: StretchIn­ter­net.com.

Live au­dio: Pur­pleEa­gles. com.

Records: Ni­a­gara 16-18-5, Rochester In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy 17-16-4.

How they got here: Fifth­seeded RIT had a first-round bye and elim­i­nated fourth­seeded Sa­cred Heart in the quar­ter­fi­nals by win­ning Game 1, 9-4, los­ing Game 2, 7-3, and win­ning Game 3, 3-1. Sixth-seeded Ni­a­gara beat Cani­sius in three games in the first-round, with a 5-4 over­time win in Game 1, a 4-3 over­time loss in Game 2 and a 2-1 win in Game 3. Ni­a­gara then up­ended third-seeded Air Force, 3-2 and 5-4, to reach the semi­fi­nals.

His­tory: This will be the fifth meet­ing of the sea­son be­tween the teams, with RIT win­ning the se­ries, 2-1-1. Ni­a­gara’s lone win, a 4-2 de­ci­sion, was on Feb. 27. Ni­a­gara leads the all-time se­ries, 19-12-14. This is the fourth post­sea­son meet­ing, with Ni­a­gara hav­ing a 4-2 edge.

New home: The tour­na­ment moves to Har­bor­center af­ter the last 12 years at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.

Tight games: Of Ni­a­gara’s last nine games, six have been de­cided by one goal. There have been two ties and one game was a two-goal mar­gin. Five of the Pur­ple Ea­gles’ last eight games have gone to OT for a to­tal of 49:35 played.

Star fresh­man: Ni­a­gara’s Lud­wig Sten­lund was the na­tion’s top fresh­man in goals (19), points (34), power play goals (9), power play points (15) and short­handed goals (3). He earned At­lantic Hockey’s Rookie of the Year hon­ors on Thurs­day.

Scor­ing prow­ess: Ni­a­gara is No. 11 in Di­vi­sion I in scor­ing of­fense at 3.23 goals per game. RIT is 20th at 3.05 per game.

Next: The win­ner ad­vances to the cham­pi­onship game at 7:30 p.m. Satur­day at Har­bor­center against the win­ner of the No. 1 seed Amer­i­can In­ter­na­tional vs. No. 8 Robert Mor­ris semi­fi­nal (Fri­day, 4:35 p.m.). The ti­tle game win­ner re­ceives an au­to­matic NCAA bid.

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