Wayne State blitzes Niagara, 5-2
Win leaves NU winless all-time v. WSU

by Matt Mackinder/USCHO Arena Reporter

PLYMOUTH, Mich. — It took a little bit longer than seven seconds, but like Friday night, Niagara got on the board first against Wayne State.

But even so, the Purple Eagles are still winless in three years worth of games against Wayne State (0-10-1) as the Warriors upended Niagara, 5-2, at the Compuware Sports Arena.

“I thought we came out strong in the first period after getting behind the eight-ball on that power-play goal,” said Wayne State head coach Bill Wilkinson. “But we got back in it in a hurry off a couple of rockets from Marc St. Jean. After that, I thought David Guerrera took over and made some unbelievable stops. We defended and countered and that’s what you need to do to win hockey games in this league.”

On a power play, senior Bernie Sigrist finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play with Chris Sebastian and Hannu Karru for his eighth goal of the year for the early 1-0 lead. Sebastian broke in on Guerrera and slid a cross-crease pass over to Sigrist for the one-timer over Guerrera’s glove at 6:04 of the opening frame.

St. Jean then evened the score at 10:40 with a blast from just inside the blue line. Niagara (10-15-3 overall, 6-3-3 CHA) couldn’t clear their zone and Jack Redwood kept the puck in before dishing off to St. Jean who ripped a slap shot that beat Purple Eagles junior netminder Rob Bonk stick-side, top corner.

St. Jean scored again at 12:33 on a Warriors two-man advantage on a goal nearly identical to his first. Freshman Steve Kovalchik passed off to St. Jean at the left point and another slapper beat Bonk from long-range.

“St. Jean probably could have scored three or four in that period,” said Wilkinson. “He had a couple of howitzers that just went wide.”

Kovalchik scored his first collegiate goal 59 seconds later on a fluky play. Kovalchik carried the puck across the red line and put a hard shot on Bonk that went off his blocker and fell into the net.

Jeff VanNynatten replaced Bonk at that point.

“For whatever reason, we don’t have a goalie who wants the net right now,” said Niagara head coach Dave Burkholder. “No one seems to want to earn it and go on a streak.”

Guerrera ensured the game stayed 3-1 with 7:30 left in the second period when he made an incredible stop on Paul Muniz, who took a pass from Chris Welch on a 2-on-1.

Sigrist pulled NU to within 3-2 when he scored his second of the game on a power play at 16:26. Justin Cross fed a streaking Sigrist, who went upstairs on Guerrera from in-tight.

Wayne State senior Max Starchenko restored the two-goal lead at 17:03 when he wired a slap shot past VanNynatten from the left face-off dot. It was Starchenko’s tenth goal this year.

“That goal by Starchenko pretty much took the wind out of their sails, I thought,” said Wilkinson.

Chris Vail made it 5-2 with an empty-net goal at 19:32 of the third period.

“Five-on-five, this was a great series,” said Burkholder. “Special teams were our downfall and Wayne State capitalized.”

Wayne State is back home next weekend at the Great Lakes Sports City in Fraser against CHA foe Bemidji State while NU has the weekend off.