Niagara Gazette — GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Purple Eagles had the momentum. They were outshooting their rivals and goalie Carsen Chubak was putting in one of the best performances of his college career. Niagara University was twenty minutes away from upsetting one of U.S. college hockey’s traditional powers in the NCAA men’s hockey tournament.
Unfortunately, it took less than a minute of play for that dream to be dashed.
Andrew MacWilliams and Danny Kristo scored just 57 seconds apart in the third period to lift the University of North Dakota over the Purple Eagles, 2-1, in the NCAA West Regional semifinal played in Grand Rapids, Mich. Leading up to that burst, it looked like Niagara might earn an overnight stay and another game.
“I didn’t want to go into a defensive shell,” said Niagara head coach Dave Burkholder. “They got that kind of… I don’t want to call it a fluky goal but a very fortunate shot from the point that went through traffic before Carsen caught it. He didn’t get it until late and it trickled in and kind of got them all the momentum.”
Chubak quickly established himself as Niagara’s most valuable player, stopping everything thrown at him in the first two periods of play. Among his nine saves in the first period was one against a North Dakota three-on-one rush.
The more he saved, the greater his teammates’ chances improved. Finally, Niagara broke the scoreless tie in the second period with Jason Beattie’s goal at the 6:27 mark.
However, that was all the offense Niagara could produce. The Purple Eagles had six power play opportunities but could not capitalize during any of them. In turn, the Purple Eagles shut down North Dakota on their six power plays, including a five-on-three situation. The constant trips to the penalty box by both sides prevented the kind of game Burkholder was hoping his team could play.