Niagara Gazette — It's not hard to pick out reasons for Niagara’s hockey success this season: productive offensive players, depth everywhere and an outstanding goaltender.
Purple Eagles fans are abundantly aware of the players who score the points — Giancarlo Iuorio, Ryan Murphy, Ryan Rashid, Marc Zanette, etc. And they know all about Carsen Chubak’s work in net.
But somewhat overlooked has been the work of Niagara’s defensemen. Guys like Dan Weiss, Jason Beattie, Kevin Albers, Matt Williams, C.J. Chartrain and Kevin Ryan.
No wonder the Purple Eagles are ranked No. 13 and 14 in the two national polls this week. They have only surrendered 74 goals in 32 games — 10 in a lopsided loss to Colgate way back on Oct. 9.
“They have been doing outstanding, obviously,” said Chubak of his defensemen. “They block a ton of shots. It cuts down my shots by about five a game. We have a lot of bumps and bruises, but I can’t complain, I guess.
“We play well in the other team’s end as well, so you can also thank the forwards. It is a whole team effort, of course. And whenever we take a penalty, obviously the guys have to sell out, block shots, and get the puck 200 feet down.”
While Niagara’s defensemen have been very steady, so has Chubak. When a team gets those two factors going its way, it will not allow many goals.
“We are having a great year, but it all starts with our goaltender,” Albers said. “He has got us out of a lot of situations where a two-on-one or odd man situation. We have an older group of defensemen, we have seniors, one junior. It is nice to have older guys lead by example, like Weiss and Beattie every night.”
A Niagara goal has been to limit the shots Chubak sees, and it has worked so far.