ERIE, Pa. — The good news is that the Purple Eagles are getting a ton of pucks to the net.
The bad news is they’re not getting the results they’d really like. But they’ll certainly take Friday night’s point.
Niagara fired a season-high 47 shots on goal, which helped them rebound from a two-goal deficit and earn a point with a 3-3 tie with Mercyhurst.
“We got out with a point but our effort could have been a lot better,” freshman TJ Sarcona said. “We should have had two points tonight if we played a full 60 minutes but only play 40, that’s the kind of results we’re going to get.”
The Lakers built a 2-0 lead in the first period at the Mercyhurst Ice Rink. Daniel Bahntge opened the scoring when he snapped one high past Jackson Teichroeb at 3:58. The Lakers were aggressive and hungry when in the offensive zone and cashed in again when Chris Bodo banged in the puck on a scramble in front of the net at 18:01.
“We weren’t happy with our first period,” Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. “Even though we got 11 shots on goal in the first, we weren’t all in. We challenged the guys after the first period that it’s not good enough.”
Sure enough, the Purple Eagles responded in early in the second when Vince Muto’s blast from the point made it 2-1 at 1:03.
The Purple Eagles started playing with more energy and purpose and controlled much of the flow of play. Stephen Peitrobon tied the game at 5:56, putting in his own rebound.
The Lakers started the third with a strong wave and suffocated the Niagara zone. Fast puck movement and a beautiful pass by Kyle Just led to a goal by Stephen Hrehoriak just 56 seconds into the period.
But Niagara survived that first wave and matched the Lakers’ intensity. Sarcona took a pass from Isaack Kohls and drilled a shot from the high slot to again tie the game, 3-3, at 3:22.
Teichroeb continued to make big saves in the third, including a beautiful stop with his right pad on a breakaway by Hrehoriak with 7:10 left in regulation. Then with 4:40, he turned around and dove on the puck as it was trickling toward the goal line.
In overtime, Mercyhurst earned a power play opportunity and got five shots off, but Teichroeb was solid and preserved the tie with 33 total saves.
It was the second straight game Niagara threw 40-plus shots on goal. Last Saturday, the Purple Eagles had 44 but were blanked by Robert Morris, 5-0.
“The shots mean we’re playing well,” Burkholder said. “It means we have the puck an awful lot. I think if we keep playing that way and keep getting 40-plus shots we’re going to win more games than we lose.”
Niagara moves to 10-9-5 in Atlantic Hockey play while Mercyhurst remains in first place with a 15-4-5 mark. The meet again at 7 tonight in Dwyer Arena.