By Karl Henkel/Special to MiCHO
After sweeping Northern Michigan a weekend ago, the Wayne State Warriors looked to ride the wave of momentum as they battled CHA foe Niagara this past weekend.
Unfortunately, critical mistakes cost WSU both contests, each of which they had a lead in.
Wayne State outplayed Niagara through two periods in the opener Friday night at the Taylor SportsPlex, holding the Purple Eagles to just eight shots on goal. But going into the third, the score was knotted at two.
Armando Scarlato scored with less than three minutes to play in regulation, handing netminder Mike Devoney, who made 17 saves, his first collegiate loss.
Brock Meadows and Tylor Michel scored for WSU.
“It was really tough,” Meadows said of the loss. “We battled hard all week preparing for this, (but) we just lost it at the end.”
Saturday's showdown at the Palace of Auburn Hills proved to be an exciting, high-scoring affair, but for WSU, it was just another devastating defeat.
Backed by two Stavros Paskaris goals in a span of 2:17, the Warriors took a commanding 4-1 lead close to halfway through the game.
Purple Eagles head coach Dave Burkholder then yanked goalie Adam Avramenko for Friday night's starter Juliano Pagliero and it immediately jump-started his team.
A mere 1:56 after the switch, Vince Rocco got his first of two consecutive goals that would bring the score to a much tighter 4-3 heading into the final period.
“It got our benches' attention and it was a good job by 'Pags' to come off the bench and not make any mistakes,” Burkholder said of the switch. “If he makes one mistake we're out of it.”
By the 4:06 mark of the third, Ryan Annesley and Matt Caruana would score to give Niagara their first lead of the afternoon.
A late power-play goal by Derek Bachynski narrowed the margin to 6-5, but it was too little, too late for the Warriors, who suffered their seventh sweep of the season.
“You've got to shut the door with a lead and we didn't do that today,” Warriors head coach Bill Wilkinson said after the game.
Wayne State (5-17-2, 1-7-0 CHA) hosts conference opponent Alabama-Huntsville this weekend at Taylor. The following weekend (Feb. 1-2), the Warriors travel to Bemidji State to take on the Beavers, who currently sit atop the CHA standings.