Niagara Gazette — During a short-ice drill near the end of practice at Dwyer Arena Wednesday morning, Niagara University’s starting goaltender Carsen Chubak was caught down on his back, his body contorted and his catching glove held up in a desperate attempt to stop the puck from passing him.
It worked. Much to the awe and delight of teammates also taking part in the drill or watching from the bench as they awaited their turn.
Among them came the call from an unidentified player, “he really wants to win this.”
Whether he was referring to that specific drill or looking at the bigger picture, Chubak indeed wants to win. So do all his Purple Eagle teammates, who upon the end of practice boarded a bus and rolled out to Grand Rapids, Mich., where they’ll face the University of North Dakota on Friday in the opening round of the NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament.
It’s a much cherished shot at redemption after falling short in the Atlantic Hockey Association’s tournament.
“We lost in the semi-final, which was very disappointing, but to a team with a lot of heart in Canisius,” said Chubak. “We’re going to play with that same intensity against North Dakota.”
The Purple Eagles were able to shake off the heartache of falling last week to the Golden Griffins in Rochester once they received confirmation of their at-large place in college hockey’s version of “the dance.” They haven’t dwelled much on that loss, but rather looked ahead to Friday’s game. That’s because from this point forward every “next game” could be their last game.
“I’m a senior and never been to the tournament, so it was very nice to know that I could suit up at least one more time with these guys and battle with them,” said forward Giancarlo Iuorio, who said the team needs to stick to its game plan, establish a good forecheck against the Fighting Sioux and play with confidence.