Dave Burkholder has been on the bench for every game in Niagara men’s hockey history. He started with the Purple Eagles when they did, 17 years ago, as an assistant coach. Twelve years ago he took over as the program’s head coach.
On Nov. 30, he reached a milestone, nabbing career win No. 200.
But Burkholder didn’t want to talk much about his 200th win. Most coaches are uncomfortable with talking about those types of accomplishments. And what’s more important to Burkholder, he didn’t want to disrupt the flow of his team, which is ranked No. 18 in the country, on an 11-game unbeaten streak and undefeated in Atlantic Hockey.
“This team is on a hot streak and with how well they’re playing as a team and what they’ve been able to accomplish so far, I didn’t want to take away what the main story line should be,” he said.
“This is a pretty close program and I still talk with a lot of our alums. It’s refreshing and kind of neat to have the relationship that I do with some of our past players. I’ve been on the bench for every game in 17 years of our history and it’s been a lot of fun. I feel very honored.”
What this team has done is take control of Atlantic Hockey at the midpoint of the season. Niagara is 9-0-0 in conference and four points ahead of second-place Holy Cross, and is 10-2-3 overall.
Goaltender Carsen Chubak leads the country in goals against (1.20), save percentage (.962) and shutouts (five), and he leads a penalty-killing unit that ranks seventh in the country and has been the most consistent part of Niagara’s hot streak.
“That starts with Carsen,” Burkholder said. “Your goalie has got to be your best penalty killer. We’ve taken our share of penalties and we get a lot of momentum from those kills. That’s the one thing that hasn’t wavered is our penalty kill.”
Winning also requires scoring and Niagara’s top line of Giancarolo Iuorio, Ryan Murphy and Marc Zanette has been providing the lion’s share of the offense. Iuorio leads the country in goals with 12 in 15 games. Murphy has 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) while Zanette has 11 (3 goals, 8 assists).
But as powerful as that top line has been, Burkholder would like to see some more scoring develop throughout the lineup.
“[Iuorio] is flying around the net. Zanette is the engine that makes the line work with his work ethic and speed and Murphy is a good blend of physical and skill,” Burkholder said. “It’s a tough line to defend ... but to win a championship, you need to spread out the scoring. No question about that.”
Niagara hosts RIT next Wednesday, then takes its midseason break before coming back with a non-conference game Dec. 29 at Bowling Green.
Iuorio and Chubak earned Atlantic Hockey Player of the Month and Goalie of the Month honors for November. Iuorio had eight goals and five assists for the Purple Eagles in a 7-0-0 month while Chubak posted a 0.71 goals-against average and a .977 save percentage to go with 214 saves in 420 minutes of work in November.
John H. Meisch, a 1958 graduate of St. Bonaventure, and his wife, Kay, have committed $75,000 to the school’s women’s basketball locker room campaign.
The Meisches’ contribution represents 25 percent of the $300,000 needed to build the new facility. More than $233,000 has been raised.
Meisch was named the 2008 William P. “Stax” McCarthy Alumnus of the Year and has served on the National Alumni Association Board.
The couple has supported the Bonaventure Fund, Students in Free Enterprise, and various initiatives in the offices of alumni and admissions.