The NIAGARA UNIVERSITY men’s hockey program will remember the 2012-13 season as a special one for years to come.
The PURPLE EAGLES went 23-9-5 in the regular season and earned a spot in the NCAA tournament for the second time in the past six seasons. Their postseason run ended early, however, following a 2-1 loss to North Dakota.
Still, Niagara has a large number of players returning from that team including their leading scorer, senior forward Ryan Murphy. Forwards Ryan Rashid and Patrick Diviak and defensemen Kevin Ryan and Matt Williams make up the rest of the senior class that will lead the Purple Eagles this season.
Top offensive contributors like Chris Lockner, Hugo Turcotte and Dan Kolenda are also back.
One player that is not returning is goaltender Carsen Chubak. After posting a record of 23-7-5 with a 1.91 GAA and .939 save percentage, Chubak was named the 2012-13 Atlantic Hockey Player of the Year and was also a finalist for the prestigious Hobey Baker Award.
He is now playing in the American Hockey League with the Adirondack Phantoms and the goaltending position is left in the hands of three underclassmen – sophomore Chris Paulin, and freshmen Jackson Teichroeb and Adrian Ignagni.
Coach Dave Burkholder starts his 13th season with Purple Eagles faced with a large amount of preseason national recognition. Niagara was picked to win the Atlantic Division title again in 2013-14 by the league’s coaches and they also earned a preseason berth in the national rankings as well, starting the season as the country’s 20th-ranked hockey team.
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Niagara wasn’t the only local team from the area to win an NCAA Tournament though.
The CANISIUS men’s hockey team also made the national tournament. Following a 19-19-5 season, the GOLDEN GRIFFINS won the Atlantic Hockey Championship as the seventh seed, defeating Niagara in the semifinals and taking the championship game 7-2 over Mercyhurst.
But in the NCAA Tournament, Canisius drew a first-round matchup with the top team in the nation, Quinnipiac, and lost a tight game 4-3.
Like Niagara, Canisius returns many of its top players for the 2013-14 season. The Golden Griffins will boast a veteran team, as 19 of their 28 players are juniors or seniors. That leadership group will be led by senior forward Ryan Bohrer, who was chosen as the team’s captain for the upcoming season.
Also, senior goaltender Tony Capobianco and senior forward Kyle Gibbons were both named to Atlantic Hockey Preseason All-Star Team. Gibbons led the team in scoring last season with 21 goals and 22 assists in 42 games, and Capobianco led the team in net with a 2.40 GAA and a .929 save percentage.
Canisius welcomes five new players to the program this year. That group includes Josh Kielich, whose cousin Tim currently plays for the Buffalo Jr. Sabres, and Shane Conacher, younger brother of former Canisius standout and current Ottawa Senators forward Cory Conacher.
For both of these local hockey programs, the upcoming season provides an opportunity to build on last year’s success and look to move even further in postseason play.
Niagara opens their season this weekend with two games at Dwyer Arena against Clarkson University. Canisius has an exhibition match with Brock University this Sunday before opening their season against Niagara on October 12.
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