Big Night for Niagara at Atlantic Hockey Awards Banquet
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – It was a big night for No. 14/15 Niagara hockey team at the Atlantic Hockey awards banquet on Thursday as the Purple Eagles took home three major awards. Head coach David Burkholder was named Coach of the Year, junior goaltender Carsen Chubak was selected as the Player of the Year and senior forward Marc Zanette was named Best Defensive Forward.
For Burkholder, it’s his first AHA Coach of the Year award since entering the conference in 2010-11, and third overall in his career (CHA Coach of the Year in 2006 and 2007). In his 12th season as head coach at Niagara, he directed a team to its first AHA regular-season title with two weeks remaining in the season. The Purple Eagles finished in the top spot at 20-5-2 with 42 points in the conference, the most league wins and points in program history. Niagara is currently 23-5-5 overall, only the third time in the program’s Division I history that the squad has reached the 20 win mark.
“This is a staff award that I proudly share with Tim, Pat, Jeff, Scott, Donny, Whitey, Matt and Michelle,” Burkholder said. “Every day they go the extra mile for our players. Nobody works harder or has as much fun. I am very fortunate.”
Chubak is the second Niagara player to be named the AHA Player of the Year, with Paul Zanette earning the honor in the 2010-11 season. Chubak finished the regular season with a 20-3-2 record, ranking second in goals-against average (1.82) and save percentage (.939). The seven-time AHA Goalie of the Week and two-time AHA Goalie of the Month closed the season first in shutouts (5) and a .840 winning percentage.
Chubak found himself in the record books during conference play, becoming the first NU goalie to register three consecutive shutouts, tying him for third in NCAA history with three successive shutouts, in the company of goalies such as Jimmy Howard and Ryan Miller. He also earned the NU record for most consecutive shutout minutes (258.32).
“Carsen has been a pillar of strength back there for us all season,” Burkholder said. “There are a lot of great players in this league but he has been the best and most consistent player all year.”
Zanette was honored by the league with the AHA’s Best Defensive Forward Award. The Nobleton, Ont. native posted eight goals, but was known more for his passing abilities with a career-high 15 assists. Zanette was solid on the power play, scoring two goals and adding three assists, but as dependable as he was on offense, Zanette did not forget his defensive duties seeing ample time on the penalty kill which was ranked third in the conference at 85.5 percent (17-for-118).
The 6-foot-1, 195 pound right shot was an aggressive forechecker, who took every opportunity to unleash his shot—leading the team and second in the conference with 111 looks on net. Zanette also closed out his career with 47 points (19 goals, 28 assists), playing in 81 of 83 AHA contests since the 2010-11 season.
“Marc is a heart and soul type of player,” Burkholder said. “Everyone can play on the offensive side of the puck, but it takes character and grit to be a defensive specialist. Niagara is very fortunate that he is very good on both. “
As announced earlier in the week, four individuals from Niagara were also placed on the AHA All-Conference Teams. The four individuals voted All-Atlantic Hockey were senior Giancarlo Iuorio and Chubak to the first team, senior co-captain Dan Weiss to the second team and junior defenseman Kevin Ryan to the third team.