After a second night of tight, close hockey between the Michigan Tech University Huskies and the University of Denver Pioneers, the Pioneers once again came out on top Saturday, winning 3-1 and earning the weekend sweep.
“I thought tonight we came out and played very well,” said Pioneers’ coach George Gwozdecky. “We worked hard, we played smart; it wasn’t easy.”
It appeared as if the Huskies were going to open up the scoring about eight minutes in when they had a huge flurry in front of the Pioneers’ net, even drawing goaltender Marc Cheverie (31 saves) out of position, but failed to convert.
“I like to get off to a good start and our team hasn’t gotten off to great starts the last couple of games and [you] just gotta make every save you can, never give up one in the pocket and I got lucky and made those saves today, so it was good,” said Cheverie.
Instead, the Pioneers got on the board first at the 10:00 mark while the two squads were four-on-four. Patrick Mullen dished a pass from the corner to Jesse Martin in the low slot, who shot it five-hole past Tech netminder Rob Nolan (35 saves).
However, the Huskies knotted the game at one with 38.9 seconds remaining in the first period when Drew Dobson tipped a Geoff Kinrade point shot high over the shoulder of Marc Cheverie.
The second period was a fairly quiet affair, with the teams exchanging a power plays until about the four minute mark when DU took a 2-1 lead. Kyle Ostrow tipped a Mullen shot out of mid-air off the right post behind Nolan and in the net.
The play was reviewed, but the goal stood. The Pioneers got a man advantage out of the play as well, as Ostrow was cross-checked by Dobson right after he scored, though they failed to convert.
MTU coach Jamie Russell pulled Nolan with 1:23 to go in the third to try to get the equalizer, thanks to a faceoff in the Pioneers’ zone. At the same break, Gwozdecky called his time out with the play in the Denver zone, a move that would typically be made by the attacking team.
“I just wanted to make sure that we knew what our proper coverages were if we lost possession and what we were going to do if we gained possession,” he explained.
Michigan Tech ended up calling its time out with 28 seconds left, but it was Denver who capped off the scoring with a Rhett Rakhshani empty-net goal with 3.4 seconds remaining.
“It’s definitely frustrating; it’s been a challenging season,” said Russell. “I think we’ve come a long way [though]. You go back not that long ago when we played Denver, it was 6-1, 6-0 and I thought either game could have gone to either team this weekend and it came down to a bounce. The game-winning goal was one that popped up in the air and rattled around and there was a goal as well like that last night.”
“It wasn’t easy,” said Gwozdecky. “We had to battle for every shot we got. We got two goals on two real strong efforts, we had some guys that played very well, but you can tell we’re not the same team when [we] don’t have [Tyler] Ruegsegger and [Tyler] Bozak in the line-up, but we made the adjustment very well.”