Prince Albert native Carsen Chubak made his American Hockey League debut on Dec. 14, playing a relief role. Chubak got his first start in net at the American League level on Saturday, lifting the Adrondack Phantoms to a 3-1 win over the Providence Bruins. Photo courtesy of the Adirondack Phantoms.
With the Prince Albert Mintos motto of hard work and discipline tattooed on his arm, 24-year-old P.A. goaltender Carsen Chubak got his first professional start between the pipes on Saturday.
Chubak who got the ink on his arm as an 18-year-old member of the 2007 Telus Cup Champion Mintos, appeared in his first American Hockey League start on Saturday, lifting the Philadelphia Flyers affiliate Adirondack Phantoms to a 3-1 victory over the Providence Bruins.
“It was an '18-year-old decision', but I don’t regret it one bit,” Chubak, who stopped 37 of 38 shots on Saturday, said on his Mintos-inspired tattoo. “It’s difficult to be a hypocrite when you have those words tattooed on your arm.”
Chubak has faced his share of adversity en route to making his professional debut with the Phantoms. As the starting backstop for the NCAA Niagara University Purple Eagles, Chubak suffered a torn ACL when a player fell on him and his skate got caught in the post in a 2010 game against Colgate.
Chubak needed reconstructive surgery to repair his knee and not long after, Chubak would require hip surgery.
“There was a doctor who said I would never play again, but you hear that story all the time,” recalls Chubak who admits with modesty that he has faced more adversity than the average hockey player.
“You can’t beat someone who doesn’t quit,” Chubak said. “I’ve been told a lot of things but you kind of just disregard things that people say. It doesn’t literally mean you can't play, it just means ‘they’ don’t think you can play, but they are not all knowing.”
After recovering from his surgeries and fighting to regain his starter job in net, Chubak posted a record of 23-7-5 and a goals against average of 1.91 with the Purple Eagles last season before moving on to the minor-professional East Coast Hockey League.
After Phantoms starting backstop Yann Danis went down with a knee injury early in December, Chuback got the call to the Phantoms from the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears on Nov. 30.
Though Danis’ injury gave him his big shot, Chubak has developed a great deal under the tutelage of the 32-year-old backstop.
Danis has appeared in 53 NHL games with the Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers.
“It’s awesome to learn from a guy like Yann Danis,” Chubak said. “He’s been around. We’ve had some conversations and you take a lot from his experience.”
While Phantoms goalie Cal Heeter took over the Phantoms starting job, Chubak appeared in a relief role on Dec. 14. After Heeter started 10-straight games between the pipes, Chuback finally made his first American League start before a crowd of 4,466 fans on Saturday.
“I didn’t know the crowd was going to be that large,” Chubak said of the electric atmosphere at the Glens Falls Civic Center in Glens Falls, N.Y. on Saturday. “The fans were really into it and that helped push us to the win.”
Though he has played the bulk of his career in the United States, Chubak hasn’t forgotten his roots in Prince Albert, where he played for the Crescent Heights Stars, working his way up to the Mintos and then the Flin Flon Bombers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
“It’s a small world,” Chubak said of his hometown dubbed Hockey Town North. “Once you get out and explore a bit, you realize everything isn’t quite like P.A.”
Chubak said playing in a hockey-centric city like Prince Albert is beneficial to a player’s development.
“You have to be tough to play in Prince Albert,” he said. “I would have to say that Saskatchewan is the heartland of hockey, growing up in that kind of atmosphere is always good for a hockey player. Everyone there cares about hockey, the fans are knowledgeable and maybe they get on you a bit more because they expect more from you.”
Growing up on one of Prince Albert’s many outdoor rinks, Chubak’s biggest message to the youngsters skating out there today is to never give up.
“I was cut from a lot of teams in Prince Albert,” Chubak said. “I just stress always working hard and you will never know what can happen.”
Chubak’s mantra is to use adversity and the doubt of others to his advantage.
“There are two ways you can take adversity,” he explained. “There is a positive and a negative way. I think if you can use the energy to your advantage, if you are fuelled by doubt, anybody who doubts you will give you energy. Your perspective and attitude towards adversity changes everything.”