Despite a 6-5 overtime loss to Robert Morris on Saturday evening, Niagara secured the outright Atlantic Hockey regular-season championship.
This is Niagara’s first AHA regular season title since the program entered into the conference in 2010-11, and its first conference crown since the 2006-07 season when the Purple Eagles earned the College Hockey America regular-season championship.
Niagara (19-6-5, 18-3-2) came from behind twice in the final 20 minutes, but eventually fell to the Colonials (16-12-2, 11-11-1) two minutes into overtime while on a man-disadvantage. Matt Cope gave Robert Morris the lead for good with a wrister from the top of the slot.
RIT’s two-game series sweep of Mercyhurst, capped by Saturday’s 5-3 victory, helped NU secure the title and top seed for the playoffs.
“It was a game filled with a crazy range of emotions,” Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. “There were so many momentum swings from going down and then coming back. Then heading into overtime thinking you need a point to win the regular season, lose on a power play goal and then two minutes later you walk into the locker room to find out you’re regular season champs. It’s been a crazy night, but I’m certainly proud of these guys. They have a championship banner, but we still have a lot to play for this season.”
Giancarlo Iuorio a goal and three assists for Niagara.
Also on Saturday, Canisius (11-16-5, 10-11-2) lost at Air Force, 3-2, as the Falcons improved to 14-10-7, 12-6-5 in Atlantic Hockey with the two-game series sweep.
Scott Holm scored the winner late in the third period off an assist by Dan Weissenhofer. Chris Rumble and Doug Beck each scored goals for the Golden Griffins, who lost Friday night, 3-1.