Atlantic Hockey: Niagara falls to Bentley

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Andrew Pizzo probably slept like a baby on Friday night.

At least that is what he was hoping.

Pizzo encountered a whirlwind of life in the last 24 to 48 hours or so. The right winger officially became of a member of the Niagara University club on Thursday mid-afternoon after all of his NCAA paperwork was completed. He participated in the Purple Eagles’ morning skate on Friday, then hung out in the afternoon at a teammate’s place — and presto — played his first collegiate game on Friday night.

It was indeed a busy 24 hours for the now Niagara freshman.

“Maybe a week’s notice, I had to get through the clearinghouse because I wasn’t registered,” said Pizzo, who started the season with the  Buffalo Jr. Sabres. “We plowed through that, and it was pretty exciting the other day. It was really quick. I have not even practiced yet.”

It did not take long for Pizzo to witness the difference between junior hockey and the game at the college level.

“It is a lot quicker, bigger guys,” he said. “Guys are more mature, so it is something to get used to. I was very nervous at the start, but I kind of got a hang for it. I hope I can get a good sleep, because we have another game tomorrow.”

For the record, he took a regular shift against Bentley, recorded two shots, and was a plus-1 in his collegiate debut, a 6-3 Bentley triumph.

“I thought he was terrific,” said Niagara coach Dave Burkholder. “We have been recruiting him for two or three years now, and he was on our list for next fall. With the injury bug we’ve had, we are decimated, we pitched Andrew and his family, and we got it done yesterday around 3 o’clock.

“He has a lot of poise, he has a great stick. That is really good first game for someone who has been with our program less than one day.”

Pizzo was issued a brand new pair of skates and gloves, and as anybody who has played knows, there is usually an awkward breaking in period, but Pizzo said the new gear was not a factor at all.

Kyle Schmidt led Bentley with two goals, while Max French, Connor Brassard, Ryan McMurphy and Matt Riggleman scored goals for the Falcons, who extended their unbeaten streak to three games. Nicolas Carrier scored twice for the Purple Eagles, who fell to 2-11-2 in Atlantic play and 2-16-3 overall. Bentley improved to 5-6-4 (AHC) and 6-10-5 overall.

“I would have to say that we played pretty darn good,” Burkholder said. “I thought we played hard, physical, and accomplished a lot of our pregame goals that we set. But unfortunately, we did not get a stop.”

Niagara starting goaltender Guillaume Therien allowed five goals on 20 shots.

NOTES: As if Niagara does not have enough injuries, it actually had another one, at least for a little while. Center TJ Sarcona left the game after the first period, but did return for the third. … Bentley right winger Ryner Gorowski was named the Atlantic Hockey rookie of the week on Friday, the second consecutive week he has won that honor. … Air Force (48) and Robert Morris (22) each received votes in the latest USCHO poll.

Atlantic Hockey roundup   

RIT 5, at American International 0
Erik Brown scored two goals to lead the Tigers to an easy victory over the Yellow Jackets. Garrett McMullen had two assists, while goaltender Mike Rotolo recorded the shutout for RIT, which outshot AIC 40-18.

Mercyhurst 3, at Army 1
Jonathan Charbonneau scored two goals, including the game-winner, as the Lakers registered a road victory over the Black Knights. He scored the winner just 21 seconds into the second period in a four-on-four situation. Dominic Franco scored the lone Army goal.

Sacred Heart 2, Holy Cross 1
Justin Danforth scored the game winner in overtime. His goal came on a power play just 1:33 into overtime. Jeff Carroll scored the other Sacred Heart goal, while Mitch Collette scored the lone Crusaders’ goal.

Canisius 4, at Air Force 1
Canisius scored just 3:11 into the game en route to a four-goal first period and cruised to a 4-1 win over Air Force. David Bennett scored the game-winner at 10:35 of the first, which started a 2:24 span where Canisius scored three goals. Canisius goaltender Charles Williams made 38 saves.

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