UNH men's hockey falls to Niagara, 5-2

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Junior Barret Eghoetz was held scoreless in the first game of the Xerox Punch Imlach College Hockey Showcase Friday, but the forward made up for it Saturday with a hat trick to help in Niagara University’s 5-2 upset of No. 1 New Hampshire at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, N.Y.

"We wanted to come out today and prove to everybody, and ourselves, that last night wasn’t the team that we are. We are a lot better than that so we wanted to prove it. We just played the whole 60 minutes," Eghoetz said.

Niagara had not previously played the No. 1 team in the country and last beat a ranked opponent at home on Nov. 23, 1999, when the Purple Eagles beat No. 5 RPI, 2-1. Niagara is now 2-0 vs. New Hampshire after the Purple Eagles beat the Wildcats 4-1, on March 24, 2000, in the NCAA West Regional at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis, Minn.

"This was one of those games where all the little details, the loose pucks, the physical side of it, you name it, we threw it at them. We threw everything we had at them. We were the better team tonight anyway," head coach Dave Burkholder said. "It was obviously the biggest win I’ve had in my three years. From the goaltending on out, it was pretty special."

Ehgoetz’s first goal tied the game 1-1 with New Hampshire killing the final 28 seconds of a five-minute major penalty. Freshman Sean Bentivoglio fed classmate Jeremy Hall, who was behind and to the right of the net. Hall attempted to slide the puck past Ayers on his stick side but the puck bounced off Ayers’s glove and Eghoetz crashed from the right side to put away the rebound.

Sophomore Ryan Gale gave Niagara a 2-1 lead at 12:21 of the second when he worked himself around a New Hampshire defender for a one-on-one with Ayers. Gale forced Ayers to make stack his pads before shooting the puck past the sprawling Ayers.

Niagara took a 3-1 lead at 14:54 of the second period when Eghoetz tallied his second goal. Senior Joe Tallari’s shot on net caused a scramble in the crease before the puck came out to junior Casey Handrahan at the right point for a shot. Eghoetz tracked down the rebound at the right face-off circle, spun around and beat Ayers.

Eghoetz’s third goal gave Niagara a 4-1 lead in the second period. On the power play, freshman Brian Hartman passed from the right point to sophomore Andrew Lackner on the left who put a shot on net that Eghoetz tipped by Ayers at 18:47.

Niagara’s fifth goal of the game came at the 13:01 mark of the third. On the power play, freshman Aaron Clarke passed it from the left point to classmate Jeremy Hall at the right face-off circle. Hall knocked the pass down and hit Gale with a backhand pass at the front of the net. Gale easily beat Ayers for his second goal of the contest.

New Hampshire scored first on a power play when senior Tim Horst’s slap shot went by sophomore Jeff VanNynatten on the glove side from the right point. The Wildcats’ second goal came early in the third period to made it 4-2. Preston Callander passed to Brian Yandle on the right point. Yandle‘s shot went wide to VanNynatten’s stick side and Steve Saviano snapped it by VanNynatten on the glove side.

VanNynatten made 19 saves and Ayers 22. Niagara was 3 for 8 on the power play while New Hampshire was 2 for 6. The Purple Eagles out shot the Wildcats 27-21.

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