Niagara University was handed its first loss in conference play on Friday, as the Purple Eagles fell to Holy Cross, 5-3, at Hart Center in Worcester, Mass.

Twice the Purple Eagles (13-3-4; 12-1-1 AHA) battled back from a pair of goals down while playing with a short bench to make it a one-goal contest, but the Crusaders (12-7-2; 8-4-2 AHA) responded each time with a score to halt the Purple Eagles three-game win streak.

“We did a lot of good things, I thought we carried the play for most of the night,” Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. “We certainly had more great opportunities than they did, but when you add it all up they got to the scoreboard more than we did. When you’re on the road playing a quality team like Holy Cross you can’t give them three gifts, which we did.”

The Purple Eagles outshot the Crusaders, 41-29, and Carsen Chubak made 11 saves in 38 minutes, while Cody Campbell wrapped up goaltending duties for Niagara by pushing aside 13 Holy Cross attempts. This is the first time in 22 AHA contests where Niagara has not secured at least one point against a conference opponent, dating back to Feb. 11, 2012.

Niagara returns to Hart Center this evening at 7 to wrap up the series against Holy Cross.

Elsewhere, Canisius College lost a heartbreaker to host Bentley, 3-2, in overtime on Friday in Watertown, Mass. The Falcons had a 2-on-1 and after Tony Capobianco made the initial save, Brett Switzer knocked in the rebound for the winner.