Big Ben Steady as He Goes Posted by IceCaps on
Third-year pro Ben Chiarot a big part of IceCaps young defence corps
By: Ed Veilleux
Big Ben: for most, the two words symbolize a clock in England. For IceCaps fans, there is only one Big Ben: defenceman Ben Chiarot.
Last year, the 22-year-old ended the season clocking in at 6’3 and 215 pounds.
This season, he came back at 225 pounds, after an off-season spent training at McMaster University in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario.
Both the clock and the player can be noted for their reliability, but unlike the clock, Chiarot has shown some flashes of brilliance (and not in some touristy way).
The physical defenceman has quietly snuck up the charts for the IceCaps, sharing the scoring lead with Eric O’Dell, Jerome Samson, Kael Mouillerat and Brenden Kichton, having notched two goals and three assists to sit at five points in six games. Chiarot also leads the IceCaps with a plus-seven rating, good for fourth in the AHL.
Working on a pairing with rookie Brenden Kichton has led to an explosive start to the season, with Chiarot playing the role of mentor.
“Kichton is only a year younger than me, but I feel like I’m a big brother to him,” said Chiarot. “I try to help him out and show him what I’ve learned in my short time here and he’s been great.”
Chiarot credits his partner for the strong start to the season as a defensive tandem, which has been one of the most dependable for the IceCaps both offensively and defensively.
“Kichton’s been great. He’s a smart puck mover and defensively he’s been really strong. It’s great to play with a guy who can move the puck like that.”
The IceCaps have so far counted on Chiarot to play in all situations and log major minutes as a member of the team’s top-four. His gritty style of play, mixed with the odd offensive rush or pinch has made Chiarot an important part of a young defence corps.
Losing veterans Dean Arsene and Travis Ramsey in the offseason, as well as former AHL all-stars Derek Meech and Paul Postma, has opened up minutes for Chiarot and other young up-and-comers with something to prove.
Six games in, Big Ben has shouldered all the responsibility the IceCaps have asked for.
The IceCaps face a demanding six-game road trip, starting with three games in three days including a back-to-back against the Atlantic Division leading Manchester Monarchs Friday and Saturday. The Monarchs have yet to lose in regulation, so the IceCaps will have their work cut out for them.
The IceCaps face Providence Sunday, which the club managed to take three points from in their opening weekend back home.
This is a crucial road trip for the IceCaps if they hope to establish themselves in the playoff race. As Captain Jason Jaffray remarked after Saturday’s game, points are easier to get earlier in the season, before the playoff race really heats up.