This weekend, one Atlantic Hockey team won any non conference game. That team did not make its conference postseason semifinals last season. That team also won as many games against the NCHC that the entire Atlantic Hockey conference did last year. That team was the Purple Eagles of Niagara. They did so with a 4-3 win featuring third period heroics from new and returning Purple Eagles. The Purple Eagles are now 2-0 for the first time in their history at the Division One level.
Head Coach Jason Lammers said , “ a lot of both games came down to our goalie. Id be remiss if I didn’t start with how well Chad Veltri played. I just thought we stayed with it.”
One standout of many tonight for Niagara was Lucas Bahn. After not playing college hockey for 574 days he proved to be integral for the Purple Eagles and made an impressive debut for his new team. Whether blocking shots or providing the primary assist on the game winner by Ryan Naumovski, Bahn was everywhere for the team tonight. Lammers said of Bahn’s assist on the game winner after Bahn took a roughing penalty that lead to a goal in the same period “to come back to respond like that shows the maturity” (That Lammers knows Bahn has in abundance).
On the benefit of the transfer portal, tonight showed its immediate dividends. Lammers said of it and his team, “for us that just shows that it matters, we are really happy with the guys that we have.”
Going forward Lammers talked about his group and said that their wins and ability to move forward are about “the belief that the group has in themselves.”
Lammers also talked about the sweep from a conference perspective. He said “I think it’s really good to the conference and really important to give people national recognition( of the skill of Atlantic Hockey).”
Forward Albin Nilsson said of the sweep “We’ve been planning the entire preseason for this, and we are a hard team to play against.”
Albin was on the team that got swept by North Dakota to open last year and noted differences in this group. He said , “we are all sticking to the system and details, we know when to make plays. Just that and hard work.” He added that Veltri makes it look easy at times. He thinks the group did a great job at being one shift warriors with gold fish memory.
Defenseman Lucas Bahn said of his weekend and retuning to playing Division one college hockey after 574 days and for a new team, “It’s been awhile I feel good though.”As Bahn likes to do, he praised Naumovski and Casey Carreau on the goal, and deflected praise from himself.
He praised Chad Veltri as well, saying , “he makes us defenseman feel really special.” Bahn likes having the ability to make plays and notes that it’s easier to do so with a strong backstop like Chad Veltri behind him.
On the future for the Purple Eagles, Lucas ended with simply saying “I think we are going to have a fun year.”
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