COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Niagara and Air Force have a history as they played each other often as independents before both helped form the now defunct College Hockey America men’s league in 1999.
Both are now in Atlantic Hockey and while the Purple Eagles may hold the all-time series lead (30-20-4), the Falcons have soared more often than not when the two have crossed paths since Niagara joined the association in 2010.
That trend continued Friday night before 1,310 spectators at Cadet Ice Arena as Air Force took Game One of the teams’ best-of-three quarterfinal series, 2-1, to put the Purple Eagles in a win-or-go-home situation heading into tonight’s Game Two (9 p.m., Radio 1340).
Max Hartner’s goal at 9:43 of the second period broke a 1-1 tie, as both teams combined for all of the game’s goal during a stretch of 3 minutes, 15 seconds. Niagara’s Patrick Divjak scored on a breakaway at 6:58, 30 seconds after Cole Gunner’s goal gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead.
Air Force outshot NU, 37-27. Jackson Teichroeb made 35 saves for Niagara as both goals he yielded came off of two-on-one rushes.
Niagara (13-19-5) went 0 for 1 on the power play, while Air Force (21-12-4) went 0 for 3.
The Falcons are 9-3-1 against NU since joining Atlantic Hockey. This is the two teams’ first playoff series in Atlantic Hockey but they met three times during the postseason in College Hockey America with Niagara holding a 2-1 edge.