The No. 8 Denver Pioneers needed slightly less that two minutes to get themselves on the board and another four in the middle frame to earn their first road win of the season at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena, 6-0. The Pioneers (10-5-1 overall, 6-4-1 WCHA) didnâ€™t outskate the Michigan Tech Huskies, but they found ways to score, and that made all the difference.
â€œI donâ€™t think that we played all that well,â€ said Pioneersâ€™ coach George Gwozdecky. â€œI thought it was a pretty even game except for our execution that last 15 to 20 feet around the net.â€
Pioneersâ€™ winger Anthony Maiani poked a loose puck past Huskiesâ€™ netminder Rob Nolan at the 1:45 mark for the first tally of the game. Center Jesse Martin pushed the puck to the net off a faceoff to Nolanâ€™s right, and winger Brandon Vossberg helped clear the puck to an area where Maiani could pounce on it. The goal was Maianiâ€™s sixth of the season.
The Huskies (2-12-1 overall, 1-9-1 WCHA) appeared to even the game late in the period when sophomore center Eric Kattelus drove to the net with the puck. Junior winger Ryan Bunger scooped up the rebound and pushed it and Pioneersâ€™ goaltender Marc Cheverie into the net. Upon review, the goal was disallowed.
â€œScoring is something that has been a challenge for us (this year),â€ said Huskiesâ€™ coach Jamie Russell. â€œI talked to the team after the game and asked them what they were afraid of. We need to execute when we have the opportunity.â€
In the second period, the Huskies, who held a 12-8 advantage in shots after the first, took the play to the Pioneers, but couldnâ€™t find a way to solve Cheverie.
â€œI thought that Marc Cheverie was again the big difference in the game for us,â€ said Gwozdecky. â€œHe gave us the chance to take the lead.â€
The Pioneers opened a two-goal lead when assistant captain Tyler Ruesegger took a pass from Joe Colbourne to Nolanâ€™s right and beat the Huskiesâ€™ netminder with a low shot at the 12:21 mark on a power play. It was Rueseggerâ€™s seventh of the season.
In a near carbon-copy play, Patrick Mullen opened up a three-goal lead with his second of the year short-handed. The goal, which came at 13:16, was assisted by Rhett Rakhshani.
Vossberg netted his third of the season just under three minutes later to blow the doors wide open. Martin set up the goal with a well-placed pass.
With a two-man advantage, the Pioneers opened up a five-goal lead when Luke Salazar took a pass from Rakhshani, pulled the puck around Nolan, and stuffed it in the open net. The goal was Salazarâ€™s ninth of the season.
To start the third period, Russell inserted Corson Cramer between the pipes for his first action of the season. It was a bit of an auspicious start, as Martin tested him right away.
Martin took a pass from Maiani and pushed a one-timer past Cramer just 52 seconds in. Martin finished the game with four points.
â€œWeâ€™ve had a number of guys whoâ€™ve been off to a slow start,â€ said Gwozdecky. â€œHopefully from this game heâ€™ll begin to gain some confidence.â€
Cramer recovered nicely from the early goal by making 10 stops over the course of the period, making Russellâ€™s decision for Saturday night an interesting one. Cramer combined with Nolan to make 22 saves on 28 Pioneers shots.
â€œI think Corson is a young man who comes to rink every day ready to work hard,â€ said Russell. â€œI thought he came in and did a nice job.â€
The Pioneers finished two-for-seven on the man advantage while the Huskies went zero-for-six. The Huskies power play drops to 8.1 percent on the season.
The teams will meet again tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m.