Minneapolis, MN - Senior goaltender Greg Gardner made 34 saves to lift the sixth-seeded Niagara University Purple Eagles to a 4-1 win over the #3 seed University of New Hampshire Wildcats in the opening game of the 2000 NCAA West Regional at Mariucci Arena. The game marked Niagara's first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the program's fourth season of existence.
The Wildcats got the better opportunities early with Gardner making several key saves, including the first real test of the game just 1:08 into the game when Lanny Gare was set up all alone in front of Gardner.
Niagara freshman Randy Harris gave the Purple Eagles a 1-0 lead at 7:23 of the first period when his slap shot from the side of the left circle was partially deflected by the defense and fluttered past UNH goalkeeper Ty Conklin.
Senior Kyle Martin would increase the lead to 2-0 less than two minutes later, walking from the back boards and stuffing a shot past Conklin at the right post.
Niagara would capitalize on a two-on-one at 11:19 of the second to push its lead to 3-0 when Mike Isherwood set up Mikko Sivonen for a one-time blast from the right circle.
The Wildcats would score their only goal of the game at 1:29 of the third period. Kevin Truelson's shot from the right point deflected wide, but Matt Swain picked up the puck behind the net and fed Darren Haydar at the right side of the net. Haydar poked the puck through Gardner's pads for the goal.
Sivonen scored an empty-netter at 18:20 to close out the scoring.
Gardner shut the door the rest of the way. With his best save of night coming with 5:18 remaining, a terrific glove save on Gare.
Conklin finished the game with 15 saves for New Hampshire.
With the win, Niagara improves to 30-7-4 on the season and advances to tomorrow night's NCAA Quarterfinals and a match-up with the University of North Dakota.
New Hampshire closes out its season at 23-9-6.