Chubak puts the Belfast Giants on cusp of Super Final
Victory for the Belfast Giants in France tonight will see them book their place in the Super Final of the Continental Cup - and they could be playing that in Belfast.
Steve Thornton's team produced an outstanding performance to beat Belarus side Neman Grodno 1-0 yesterday and they will face tournaments hosts Angers Ducs this evening, who beat Polish side Sanok 4-0, knowing that whoever comes out on top will be guaranteed a final berth in the new year.
Mike Kompon scored the only goal of the game 89 seconds before the end of the second period, but it was goaltender Carsen Chubak who stole the show with a fantastic display - and to think it was only his third game in a Giants shirt.
They had to battle through adversity too, with Mark Garside missing through injury and Kevin Westgarth sitting out the second and third periods after being hit with a game misconduct penalty for kneeing.
Should the Giants progress to the final the team's owners, the Odyssey Trust, will push forward with their bid to host the Super Final, which will be played on the second weekend of January,
It was a case of deja vu for the Belfast Giants fans who travelled to France. Twelve years ago when the Giants hosted the semi-final round of the competition at the Odyssey Arena their starting goaltender, Ryan Bach, was out injured and back-up Colin Ryder had the best weekend of his career, recording two shut-outs as the team won all three games on their way to the Super Final in Lugano, Switzerland.
This time, with Stephen Murphy injured, Chubak, who only made his Giants debut last weekend, was thrown in at the deep end and responded by produced heroics to notch his own shut-out.
He set the tone with a great save in the opening minute of the game and from there things just got better as the game went on.
The Giants thought they had taken the lead at 12:20, but the referee called offside after Craig Peacock had put the puck into the net.
There was nothing between the teams and after Chubak made a great save when left one-on-one defenceman Robby Sandrock struck the pipes with a trademark slapshot.
After managing to stay out of the penalty box in the first period the Giants had to play a man short for five minutes at the start of the second following Wesgarth's offence.
Mark McCutcheon served the penalty and returned to the box a few minutes later - followed by Kevin Saurette - but that's when Chubak and his defence really came to the fore.
With the back door firmly close one goal was enough for the Giants to win the game and it came at 38:31 when captain Adam Keefe set up Kompon and he fired his shot into the roof of the net.
There was more of the same from Chubak in the third period, with one particularly impressive save just when it looked like the puck was about to slide over the line.
It was a nervy last couple of minutes for the Giants as after David Phillips was sent to the box Grondo pulled their goaltender to go six-on-four, but no matter what they tried there was just no getting past the hero of the hour, Chubak.