Despite a large shot advantage and a second half comeback by the University of Denver Pioneers Friday night, the team battled the Colorado College Tigers to a 2-2 tie in a wildly entertaining, back-and-forth Halloween night showdown in front of a rowdy, partially-costumed crowd of 5,857 fans at Denverâ€™s Magness Arena.
â€œPretty good game, pretty good atmosphere,â€ said Denver coach George Gwozdecky. â€œI donâ€™t get distracted much when Iâ€™m down on the bench, but tonight was the first time in I donâ€™t know how long — our student section was phenomenal [and] our pep band was tremendous.
â€œAs for the game itself â€¦ we got down by two and we fought back. The last 35 minutes of the game I thought we played very well and seemed to give them a lot of problems.â€
The Tigers took the first lead of the game on a power play goal as well as their first official shot 4:09 into the first period. Chad Rau tried to walk the puck in and instead, backhanded it to Gabe Guentzel at the top of the zone who dished it to Brian Connelly at the top of the left circle. Connelly then wristed a low shot that found its way into the back of the net behind Pioneer goaltender Marc Cheverie.
Denver got a late first period 5-on-3 with about seven minutes left, but couldnâ€™t do anything with it. The Pioneers had a multitude of chances, but couldnâ€™t get anything past Tiger netminder Richard Bachman.
The teams exchanged chances throughout the rest of the period, with CC getting the best one at the end of the opening frame, but Cheverie came up with a big save to keep it a one goal game.
Addison DeBoer put the Tigers up 2-0 just under five minutes into the second period. DeBoer stole the puck behind the net, tried to pass it to teammate Brian McMillin and when the pass didnâ€™t go through, DeBoer picked the puck back up and backhanded it past Cheverie.
The Pioneers cut the lead down to one about three minutes later when Tyler Bozak took the puck from the circle, skated it down around to the right side of the net and tossed the puck in front, presumably as a pass to Rhett Rakhshani. The puck never made it to Rakhshaniâ€™s stick; instead, it banked off his skate and into the net behind Bachman. The officials reviewed the goal, but as Rakhshaniâ€™s foot never moved to direct the puck in any way, the goal stood.
Denver had a few prime chances to tie it on a power play with about five minutes left in the second when both Patrick Wiercioch and Luke Salazar missed on point-blank opportunities. Wiercioch shot the puck high from about three feet out one-on-one with Bachman and Salazar, right in front, couldnâ€™t get a handle on the puck to get a shot off with Bachman out of position.
However, DU tied it up 28 seconds into the third period thanks to a Bachman miscue. Bachman went to play the puck around the net to his defenseman when Bozak swooped in, grabbed the puck and dished it to Salazar in the slot who shot it past a sliding Bachman attempting to get back into position.
â€œI thought Richard played it pretty well,â€ said CC coach Scott Owens. â€œI give credit to the Denver guy â€¦ Bozakâ€™s a big time player and Brian [Connelly] was a little slow, but Bozak forced that play and made it and it was in the first minute of the third.â€
Denver had a few great chances on the power play about halfway through the period, but CCâ€™s penalty kill, second best in the nation, held the course.
The game continued in the same fast-paced, back-and-forth manner throughout the third, but neither team could break through in part thanks to the goaltenders.
â€œWhen we generate as many chances as we did, itâ€™s not often weâ€™re going to be shut down and limited to two goals,â€ said Gwozdecky. â€œRichard Bachman was tremendous, Marc Cheverie was tremendous when called upon down the stretch [as well].â€
The two teams battled into the extra frame, but neither could score, ending the game in a tie.
â€œOur D corps was gassed by the end and, actually, it ended up being a good tie, given the way the middle of the game was,â€ said Owens.
â€œDenverâ€™s a top-five team in the country so at that point, escaping here with a tie is like a win for us and now we just need to regroup and come ready to go on Sunday,â€ said Bachman.
The two teams finish up the home-and-home series on Sunday down in Colorado Springs at 5pm MT.