Central Catholic's junior varsity hockey program is tied for third in its 16-team section in fewest goals allowed.
That's not surprising, considering the JV team has the same two goalies as the varsity squad.
Kevin Dziubek and Brian Burger have split time in net for the varsity team, and both have pulled double duty playing in goal for the junior varsity team as well.
"It's kind of weird," Dziubek said. "It's a hard transition to make. There is a different pace to the games [at the junior varsity and varsity levels]."
But both Dziubek and Burger have risen to the challenge. Of goaltenders who have played at least six games, Dziubek was fourth entering the week at the Class AAA varsity level with a 2.42 goals-against average and Burger was 10th with a 3.06 GAA.
Dziubek (7-2) has won his past three starts, including a 2-1 victory against Bethel Park on Jan. 31 when he stopped 18 of 19 shots.
Burger (2-5-1) doesn't have the impressive won-loss record of Dziubek, but had one of the best performances of the season when he stopped 40 of 41 shots in a 1-0 loss to Seneca Valley. The Raiders are third in Class AAA in points.
"We played really well against Seneca Valley and Bethel Park," Connolly said. "We only allowed one even-strength goal in two games against two of the best teams in the league."
The two goaltenders are very different stylistically. Dziubek is a "butterfly" goaltender, which suits his 6-foot-2 frame. Meanwhile, Burger, who is 5-8, relies more on his quickness while trying to stay upright more often to take away the top of the net.
"There's a big difference," Dziubek said. "It's funny sometimes because our goalie coach has to tell us both different things."
While they have different styles, both have benefitted the same from the great defense in front of them.
Senior Neil Carleton, who missed most of last season with injuries, has been one of the better defenders in the league. Carleton, the team's captain, has tallied 14 points and has stayed out of the penalty box (only two penalty minutes). He played in the PIHL Class AAA All-Star Game Sunday.
Central Catholic's two assistant captains, J.K. Freyvogel and Dylan Junker, also play on the blue line. That type of leadership and experience has helped the defense and goaltenders work well together.
"Neil and the rest of the guys are easy to communicate with because of their age," Burger said. "They've all been playing together for a while now and they've been phenomenal. They've blocked a lot of shots for us."
Because of the team's propensity to block shots, Central Catholic has only given up an average of 21.9 shots on goal per contest, which is one of the reasons the Vikings entered the week fifth in Class AAA in fewest goals allowed.
Strong goal prevention coupled with the confidence of playing well against quality opponents could make the Vikings dangerous when the playoffs roll around.
"Playing Bethel Park, Seneca Valley and North Allegheny as tough as we did gives us confidence," Burger said. "Other teams haven't been as close and we feel like we can beat anyone."hsother