BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Niagara University’s hockey team is receiving votes in both national polls following its first 2-0 start as a Division I program, and the Purple Eagles have the opportunity for two more notable wins in their first set of home games this weekend.

Following its sweep at Omaha last weekend, Niagara was effectively ranked among the top 25, as the second team outside the top 20 ranked by USCHO.com, and fifth outside the top 20 in the USA Hockey Magazine poll.

Niagara hosts American International, the preseason favorites to win a fifth consecutive Atlantic Hockey Association championship, at 7 p.m. Friday and 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Dwyer Arena to begin a stretch of four games on home ice.

AIC, which is receiving votes just below Niagara in the USA Hockey Magazine poll, is 0-1-2 after opening at Alaska-Fairbanks and hosting UMass for a single game last weekend. This is the Yellowjackets’ first trip to Western New York since October 2018. Niagara went 0-1-1 in its trip to AIC last season, earning a shootout point following a 1-1 tie before losing the second game 4-3.

Niagara was last ranked at No. 20 by USCHO in December 2017 following a 9-5-1 start and four weeks receiving votes. The last time the Purple Eagles received votes in a national poll was in November, 2019, but further outside the top 20 than their current position.

Canisius travels this weekend to Ferris State, the alma mater of coach Trevor Large, after opening with 5-2 and 7-5 losses against Penn State at Pegula Ice Arena. The Golden Griffins play their first home game at Harbocenter on Tuesday against RPI.

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Jonah Bronstein joined the News 4 roster in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. Read more of his work here.