The No. 8 Denver Pioneers, searching for their first road sweep of the season, got three goals in the opening period en route to a 6-1 win over the Michigan Tech Huskies at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena Saturday night.
“It was as good of a start to a game as we could have asked for,” said Pioneers’ coach George Gwozdecky. “I thought the second period wasn’t played as well, but I thought we played a very smart third period.”
Joe Colbourne got the visitors off to the fast start with a tally at 8:32. Pioneers’ goaltender Marc Cheverie picked up the lone assist as Colbourne did most of the work on the two-on-one to find the open spot on Huskies’ netminder Josh Robinson.
The Pioneers struck again at the 13:48 mark when assistant captain Tyler Ruegsegger notched a goal off a well-placed pass from Kyle Ostrow. The opening was created by Colbourne drawing both Huskies’ defensemen to himself, allowing Ruegsegger to sneak in unobstructed.
With their only power play of the first winding down, the Pioneers notched a third goal when Patrick Wiercioch wired a laser beam of a shot past Robinson. The goal was scored at 16:48 and both Colbourne and Anthony Maiani picked up assists.
Russell yanked Robinson after the first period and brought in fellow freshman Corson Cramer for the second straight night, and Cramer was tested very quickly yet again. He combined with Robinson for 15 stops on the night.
“It was a tough decision on who to start (tonight),” said Huskies’ coach Jamie Russell. “(Corson) I thought performed pretty well.”
Jesse Martin, who had a big night on Friday, got open in front of Cramer and buried the puck just 18 seconds in. The goal was unassisted.
“(You have to) give Denver credit,” said Russell. “That is one talented hockey team.”
Sophomore defenseman Deron Cousens finally got the Huskies on the board a little over two minutes later with his second goal of the season. Intercepting a clearing attempt, Cousens skated into the high slot and ripped a slap shot past Cheverie at 2:32.
After the goal, the Huskies appeared to play with more passion than they showed early on, as they began to pick up both the hitting and the scoring chances.
Sophomores Eric Kattelus, a center, and Jordan Baker, a winger, both beat Pioneersâ€™ defenders and found themselves alone on Cheverie, but neither managed to score. Baker’s chance came while the Huskies were two men down.
Captain John Schwarz led the physical charge for the Huskies as he blasted Ruegsegger at center ice before taking a penalty for another hit in the corner shortly after.
The Pioneers jumped out to a four-goal lead just 2:23 into the third when Matt Glasser notched one. Glasser took a pass from Brian Gifford and stuffed the puck past Cramer.
Despite controlling the majority of the play, the Huskies couldn’t solve Cheverie again. Perhaps the best opportunity came from junior winger Ryan Bunger, who took a pass from senior center Alex Gagne and fired a shot from point blank range.
Gwozdecky worked his backup goalie Lars Paulgaard in for the final six minutes and he was called upon to make two stops before the Pioneers struck for the final time. He combined with Cheverie to make 21 saves for the game.
“(Lars) has been getting some mop-up time for us the last couple of weeks,” said Gwozdecky. “We’re trying to get him at least exposed to the environment that surrounds the game.”
Walk-on freshman Luke Salazar, who’s making a serious bid for the WCHA Freshman of the Year, scored his team-leading 10th goal of the season with 1:36 left.