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NU hockey starts 3-game home stand Friday vs. RIT


The Niagara hockey team closed out its non-conference portion of the 2017-18 season last weekend with a pair of tightly-contested losses against the the current No. 8 team in the NCAA, the Ohio State Buckeyes. With their attention turned solely to Atlantic Hockey now, the Purple Eagles look to snap a four-game losing streak and maintain their spot in the upper half of the AHC standings.

Niagara takes on local rival RIT this weekend with crucial conference points on the line, as the Purple Eagles sit third in the AHC with 17 points, while RIT is fifth at 14. It is also the first matchup between these two teams since the Purple Eagles took down the two-time defending conference champion Tigers in the first round of the 2017 AHC playoffs, just the second time an 11-seed beat a 6-seed since the current AHC playoff format was adopted.

What to Watch For
• With the non-conference portion of its 2017-18 schedule concluded after last weekend's series at Ohio State, the Niagara Purple Eagles hockey team turns its focus solely on Atlantic Hockey, starting with this weekend's series at Dwyer Arena.
• The Purple Eagles play host to the RIT Tigers, who sit fifth in Atlantic Hockey. RIT is playing for the first time since Dec. 9, a 4-0 win over then-No. 9 Providence.
• Niagara holds a 17-10-12 advantage in the all-time series with RIT, including a 9-4-6 mark at Dwyer Arena.
• This is the first meeting between Niagara and RIT since the Purple Eagles upset the two-time defending conference champion Tigers at the Gene Polisseni Center. Niagara scored three times in the last four minutes to take a 5-4 win in game one, and after losing 5-0 in game two, turned around to take game three by a 4-1 margin.
• Last Friday, Niagara suffered just its second one-goal loss of the season, coming back from two goals down to tie then-No. 9 Ohio State at 2-2 with just over five minutes to play, but the Buckeyes scored the game-winning goal with 6.5 seconds to play.
• Brian Wilson turned in a strong effort for Niagara in the second game of the weekend with 35 saves, but Ohio State took the weekend sweep with a 4-1 win.
• Senior forward Derian Plouffe leads Niagara and is tied for fifth in Atlantic Hockey with 21 points (11+10) in 19 games. He was held without a point in both losses at Ohio State, just the third and fourth games this season he has not recorded a point in.
• Sophomore defenseman Noah Delmas leads AHC defensemen and is tied for seventh overall in the conference at 20 points. His 19 assists lead all defensemen in the NCAA and rank third overall. 
• In conference play, Wilson is 7-4-1 with a 2.33 goals-against average and .911 save percentage between the pipes. 

Scouting the Tigers
• After having last weekend's series at Mercyhurst postponed, RIT returns to game action for the first time since the holiday break.
• In their last action of the first half, RIT earned a weekend split at then-No. 9 Providence, losing 8-3 on Dec. 8 before taking a 4-0 shutout victory, the team's first shutout of the season, on Dec. 9.
• RIT has four players at or exceeding a point-per-game pace. Throuhg 16 games, the Tigers are led in scoring by senior Myles Powell (7+12) and juniors Erik Brown (11+6), Gabe Valenzuela (5+12), and Abbott Girduckis (5+11).
• In goal, junior Christian Short has started just four games but has a team-best 2.77 goals-against average and .911 save percentage. He has 55 saves on 58 shots in his last two starts, including 28 in the shutout win over Providence. Freshman Logan Drackett has seen the majority of time in goal for RIT, going 6-5-1 between the pipes with a 3.63 goals-against average and .872 save percentage.