By Jonah Bronstein
Niagara Gazette — An opening draw is not the way he drew it up, but Niagara hockey coach Dave Burkholder found reason's to smile after his Purple Eagles came back to to Bowling Green 2-2 in Saturday's season opener at Dwyer Arena.
Dropping the puck on the college hockey season with the earliest regular season game in program history, the Purple Eagles got a goal from Chris Lochner in the final minute of the third period and a return-to-form performance from Carsen Cubak, who proved he was completely recovered from 2011 knee and hip surgeries by making 34 saves and standing up to a 5-on-3 power play in his first start in two years.
"Our penalty kill was great," Burkholder said. "Marc Zanette did a great job on the kill. We were fronting guys and blocking shots. Our defense buckled down when they had to. Carsen Chubak was the story of the game tonight. He hasn't played since opening night, and he came back tonight and played a solid game for us."
Burkholder was also pleased with the play of his fourth line, which produced the game's first goal at the 4:53 mark of the second period. Freshman Matt Chartrain passed to defenseman Kevin Ryan whose one-timer rebounded onto the stick of Rocky Gruttadauria, another freshman, who found the back of the net.
"Our line was buzzing all night, just real anxious, two of us freshmen," Gruttadauria said. "We were not looking to sore at all, I'll tell you that."
"They had some great hits, and they were crashing the net," Lochner said. "When that happens, it just gets everybody on the bench going."
"Our fourth line with Matt, Rocky and Mike (Benedict) was our energy line tonight," Burkholder said. "Every time they were on the ice they produced opportunities and Rocky was rewarded with his strong play in the crease."
Bowling Green tied the game with a power play goal 17 seconds after Niagara's first tally, and went up 2-1 with 16:19 left in the third.
Niagara plays at Colgate on Tuesday.