COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — On Denver’s second shot in overtime, defenseman Aaron MacKenzie scored at 2:29 to lift the Pioneers to a 3-2 won over Colorado College.
“This game was typical of the rivalry,” said Denver coach George Gwozdecky. “This was an intense matchup and I cannot wait until tomorrow. We played with confidence and got terrific goaltending.”
MacKenzie scored after receiving a pass from Kevin Doell. He quickly fired a shot on net from the point that deflected off the stick of a CC defender and past goalie Jeff Sanger.
“I got the puck at the top and was just hoping that I could get a bounce,” said MacKenzie. “I knew if I just threw it at the net, it could hit something, or find somebody on my team and we could get something out of it.”
The dramatic finish came as a result of a flurry of action by CC in the third period. With just under five minutes left in the game, and Denver ahead by a goal, Mark Cullen sent a centering pass from the boards to Colin Stuart, who was wide open in the slot. Stuart ripped a one-timer that Adam Berkhoel had no chance at stopping.
The game lived up to its hype, as the sellout crowd was treated to an exciting and hard-fought matchup. CC came out strong and took advantage of an early power play to claim an early lead. Mike Stuart picked up the puck out of a scrum in front of the Denver net and fired a shot. Berkhoel actually made the save, but his body had been pushed into the net, so the puck did cross the goal line.
Denver picked up its play in the second and scored twice to take a 2-1 lead. Jeff Drummond scored the first Denver goal on an outstanding individual effort. He caused a turnover behind the goal line, picked up the puck and stepped out in front. Jeff Sanger stopped his first shot, but his second shot found its way into the net.
“We were battling real hard out there,” said Drummond. “Our line was really working on our forecheck and pounding them down low. We got the turnover and were able to capitalize on it. Coach says if you keep working, good things will happen, and we never stopped out there.”
David Neale gave the Pioneers their first lead of the night when he scored on a perfectly placed wrister that beat Sanger high on the glove side.
The third period was dominated by CC, as Denver seemed to sit back on the lead.
“We had a huge defensive breakdown on that second goal,” Gwozdecky. “But I was real proud of how our guys rebounded and played at the end of the third and in overtime. We got ourselves in some trouble, but we were able to battle out of it.”
Berkhoel made 25 saves to pick up the win, while Sanger made 22 saves in the loss.
The win improved Denver’s record to 5-0-0 and dropped the Tigers to 2-3-0 on the season. The two teams resume the home-and-home series Saturday night at 7:05 MT at Denver’s Magness Arena.