Men’s ice hockey plays home to home


Megan Mckay, Staff writer

Mercyhurst hosted Niagara University over the weekend to head into their first series of conference play. The Lakers have had a hard schedule facing top teams as they are looking to build off a 1-7 re-cord against the 3-3 Niagara Purple Eagles. Looking at the history of the close rivalry, Niagara and the Lakers are 15-15-5 in past matchups.

Last season the Lakers and Purple Eagles split a series at the beginning of the year in January. The inner conference rivalry is not just a game for the players but also the coaches as Mercyhurst associate head coach Greg Gardner holds close ties to his Niagara alma mater.Gardner was the first goalie to play for Niagara in their opening varsity season, which was against Mercyhurst.

Gardner holds the NCAA record for most consecu-tive shutouts while at Niagara and also spent four years coaching behind the bench. The home matches started Friday night when the Lakers fought back after a four goal deficit to the Purple Eagles. In less than a minute span junior Kyler Head and junior Marko Reifenberger scored and in the third junior Mickey Burns and senior Rylee St. Onge squared the game at 4-4.

The game was forced into overtime and after no goals allowed, eventually to a shootout.The Purple Eagles earned an extra point with a shootout win and the game officially ended in a tie. Mercyhurst’s senior Jonathan Bendorf said after Friday’s game,

“We need to build off of the way we finished the game last night and play a full sixty.”

Saturday night fans packed in for costume night for the second game of the series. The Lakers had a much stron-ger start to their game. The Lakers found the net twice in the first period.

Senior Cade Townend recorded his first goal less than two minutes into the game assisted by Bisson and Reifenberger. Bisson picked up his first point as a Laker. The team’s captain and leading scorer St. Onge then followed after find-ing the back of the net off a ripper to the top corner. Townend and Agriogranis had the helpers on the goal.

The second period the Purple Eagles got rid of their bus legs and got to work making it very difficult for the home team to generate any fl ow. With 23 shots on goal in the second to the Lakers four, the Purple Eagles found the back of the net to tie things up 2-2. Mercyhurst’s penalty kill proved to be very strong as they battled off a series of penalties. Sophomore Jake Beaune and Junior Phillip Waugh were solid on the defensive end with strong sticks and blocked shots.

Waugh leads their conference in blocked shots and had two in the contest. Beaune also had an incredible blocked shot late in the second to deny any chance of a goal that he took to the head, after getting checked out he was back for the third. Despite Mercyhurst’s strong penalty kill, Niagara gained momentum.

To round out a long second period a rebound bounced to a Niagara player’s skate and ended up in the back of the net. After a goal review by the officials the call stood on the ice giv-ing Niagara a 3-2 lead they would hold in the third period. The Lakers made a late push in the third to find the equalizer but came up empty handed.

Freshman Owen Say had 40 saves moving his save percentage to .891 on the year. St. Onge said after the game,

“Say made some big saves for us and next weekend we need to be ready to get a good start in front of a home crowd.”

Mercyhurst is back home for their next two contests as they are set to host Sacred Heart this upcoming weekend with the two teams set to begin play on Friday, Nov. 4 at 7:05 p.m.