By MIKE MEILER
Niagara Gazette — Senior center Giancarlo Iuorio scored a natural hat trick and goaltender Carson Chubak was perfect in net as the Niagara University Purple Eagles beat the University of Connecticut Huskies, 3-0, in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Friday at Dwyer Arena.
Iuorio and his linemates, wingers Marc Zanette and Ryan Murphy, put pressure on the Huskies early and often, peppering UConn goalie Garrett Bartus with 12 shots on the night.
They struck in the first minute of the game, when Zanette pushed a pass out of the corner to Murphy, who made a move around Bartus but missed his shot. He threw his rebound in front of the net, where Iuorio picked it up and put it in the wide-open goal.
"They played fantastic," NU coach Dave Burkholder said of the line. "We put that line together at the end of last week and they scored three goals in the Clarkson series on the road.
"It was a lot of fun in practice watching these guys. They were on fire all week. I think the whole team sensed that they were going to have a breakout night."
They scored early in the second period as well. Murphy lobbed the puck high out of his own zone to Zanette, who broke out on a two-on-one with Iuorio. Zanette passed across to his linemate, who buried a wrist shot high in the short corner at the 1:10 mark for his second of the night.
Minutes later, while shorthanded, Iuorio would complete the hat trick. Zanette raced through the Connecticut zone and put a close shot on Bartus, who gave up a small rebound. Zanette poked away at the puck, which squirted out to Iuorio, who put it in the back of the net.
"We had a really good week of practice, especially yesterday, and it carried into tonight," said Iuorio, who was wearing the team's "Man Up" hardhat, awarded to the hardest working player after each home win. "Marc Zanette was flying out there, same with Murphy. That shorthanded goal was all Marc, and he gave me a good pass on the second goal as well."
The Purple Eagles (3-2-3, 2-0 AHA) dominated possession, and when the Huskies (0-3-1, 0-2) did get an opportunity, Chubak shut the door, stopping all 34 shots against.
"Obviously I feel pretty good," said Chubak, who was named AHA Goaltender of the Month in October. "The last three games, luck's been on our side. You've got to be lucky to be good and good to get lucky."
"What a story," Burkholder said of his goaltender. "It's amazing what he's doing, just quietly making the save at the right time. Just his presence, his body language, getting whistles when we needed whistles ... The confidence that he gives our team is amazing."
The Purple Eagles will host Connecticut again at 7 tonight in the second game of the series at Dwyer Arena.