To say the Wayne State Warriors have not had a lot of luck lately against the Niagara Purple Eagles is a vast understatement.
Going into last weekend, the 17th ranked Eagles had won the previous four meetings this season by a combined score of 16-7. Plus, in the last 20 meetings since 2003, the Green and Gold had only won three games.
The tables were turned at the Coliseum over the weekend as the Warriors cruised to a 6-1 victory on Friday and came back to tie the Eagles 4-4 in the finale.
The Warriors (9-20-1, 5-10-1 CHA) exploded for three goals in both the first and second periods in the opener.
Jason Bloomingburg led Wayne with a pair of goals and an assist. Mike Forgie, Jared Katz, Mark Cannon, and Nate Higgins also turned on the light for the Warriors.
In net, senior Will Hooper continued his strong play at home with 20 saves on the night.
"On home ice things are easier for us, "said Hooper. "We're used to the conditions and we're happy to finally get them in our barn. We got off to a good start, scored early, killed penalties, and blocked a lot of shots. We’ve been turning the corner lately and playing a lot better as a team."
The nation's leading goal scorer, Ted Cook, could not be held off of the board as he scored the Purps' loan goal on the power play in the second period. For Cook, it was his 28th tally of the season and 18th on the power play.
Juliano Pagliero started in net for NU, but was yanked in the second after surrendering six goals on 15 shots. Allen Barton played the remaining 28:50 of the game and stopped all 10 shots he faced.
"I was hoping we'd refresh and come back hard after our week off," said Purple Eagles' head coach Dave Burkholder. "We didn't play very hard in the first and in the second period we didn't give ourselves the chance for a comeback. Obviously, the most important hockey is still to come and we’ll get better."
The Eagles did play better on Saturday night, but the Warriors fought back hard to earn the tie.
The two teams traded first period power-play markers with Katz scoring his tenth of the season for WSU and Matt Caruana tallying for NU.
Jon Grabraek (pictured) made it a 2-1 WSU lead as he buried the game's only even strength goal at 4:31 of the second period.
Egor Mironov and Cook gave the Eagles their first lead of the series with back-to-back extra-strength goals just 49 seconds apart.
Caruana added his second of the night with the man-advantage early into the third period to give the Eagles a commanding 4-2 lead.
The Warriors didn't give up though and on the power play at 3:38, Bloomingburg netted his third of the series to make it a one goal game.
At 8:13 of the third, Grabarek picked up the game tying goal on the power-play as he gunned a slap shot from between the circles that beat Barton for his second of the night.
"I thought Niagara's fourth goal might have sealed the game," said Warriors' coach Bill Wilkinson. "Our guys fought back with a really effort in the third to get the one point. After having so many guys in and out of the lineup, we’re really starting to gel now. And one of the biggest things is that out goaltending is really getting solidified."
Brett Bothwell shut the door the rest of the way for Wayne State and finished the night with 27 saves.
Barton stopped 24 of 28 for NU.
The Warriors will close out their home schedule with a pair of games against CHA conference leading Bemidji State on Friday and Saturday night.
Both games begin at 7:05 and will be preceded both days by the Wayne State Warriors women’s team facing league rival Robert Morris.
* Saturday's game will also be Senior Night as Wayne State says thank you and goodbye to seniors Jason Baclig, Jason Bloomingburg, Mark Cannon, Taylor Donohoe, Adam Drescher, Mike Forgie, Nate Higgins, Will Hooper, Dan Illiakis, and Mark Nebus.
* Wayne State loves the chilly Coliseum. The Warriors are now 6-6-1 at home and only 3-14-0 on the road.
* Wayne State will have a special pre-game ceremony on Saturday to honor late WSU Hall of Famer Mark "Doc" Andrews. All proceeds from the gate will be donated to one of two scholarships that bear his name.