HOUGHTON, Mich. — On the night he earned the 300th victory of his collegiate coaching career, George Gwozdecky’s team made it look easy.
Third-ranked Denver remained undefeated with a lopsided 9-2 win over Michigan Tech on Friday night at MacInnes Arena.
But rather than talk about his milestone, Gwozdecky immediately turned his attention to Saturday’s rematch.
“I don’t think that anybody expected this score, and I don’t think anybody can expect the score to be like that tomorrow night,” said Gwozdecky. “We fully expected tonight’s game and tomorrow night’s game to be battles. For whatever reason, we got good bounces tonight.”
The Pioneers did more than just get bounces. They dominated Tech, using their speed and skill to create chance after chance. The overwhelmed Huskies (2-4-1, 0-4-1 WCHA) allowed five goals on six power-play opportunities.
“We didn’t finish a check all night until late in the game,” said Michigan Tech head coach Mike Sertich. “We just didn’t execute, and I’ll have to take the blame for that.”
Chris Paradise scored twice for Denver (7-0-0, 5-0-0). Connor James, Kevin Doell, Lukas Dora, and Jon Foster each had a goal and two assists, while Wade Dubielewicz made 30 saves.
“One of the downsides to having a game like this is coming out flat the next night, expecting it to be it as easy as it seemed to be tonight,” said Paradise. “I think our team is mature enough that we know it’s going to be a battle tomorrow and we know it’s not going to be as lopsided. We know Tech’s going to come out hungry and be refocused for tomorrow.”
Paradise gave the Pioneers a 1-0 lead 4:46 into the game when he faked a Tech defender, cut in front of the net, deked Michigan Tech goaltender Brian Rogers, and buried the puck.
Just over a minute later, Lukas Dora made it 2-0. James Armstrong’s shot from the point hit a Tech defender and went right to Dora, who scored easily from the top of the crease.
Paradise scored his second of the night at 9:46 when he blasted a shot past Rogers from inside the right circle for a power-play goal.
Greg Barber gave Denver a 4-0 lead when he scored a power-play goal during a wild scramble in which a Pioneer player had been shoved into the net.
“I don’t think we played the way the scoreboard reflected in the first period,” said Paradise. “We got a couple of easier goals. But we’ll take them any way we can get them. In the second and third period, we started to play a little better each period. We started to get back to our game and do the little things. We came out with a win, and that’s what is important.”
The Pioneers increased their lead to 5-0 at the 3:00 mark of the second period. A hustling Max Bull fought between a pair of Tech defenders and poked the puck ahead to Luke Fulghum, who backhanded a shot along the ice past Rogers.
During a stop in the action a minute later, Sertich replaced the struggling Rogers with freshman Cam Ellsworth.
But just eight seconds after Ellsworth entered the game, Doell took a centering pass and scored from his knees in the low slot.
The Pioneers took a 7-0 lead when James flew up the left side, raced past the defenders, and tucked a shot inside the far post.
Colin Murphy finally gave the home crowd something to cheer about when he scored on a breakaway at 11:06. As Murphy skated in, Dubielewicz came sliding out of the net to challenge him. But the puck went under Dubielewicz, allowing Murphy to guide it across the line and ruin the shutout.
The Pioneers increased their lead to 8-1 on Bull’s power-play goal at 18:25. Foster set up behind the net and sent a slick pass through traffic to Bull, who beat Ellsworth with a high shot from between the circles.
Foster made it 9-1 on a power-play goal from Erik Adams and Doell at 3:42 of the third period.
Later in the third, things nearly turned ugly when Bull leveled Jon Pittis as the Huskies’ 5-foot-5 forward crossed the blue line. Although a small melee followed, only Bull, who was called for interference, received a penalty.
The Huskies scored their second goal of the game on the ensuing power play as Bryan Perez one-timed a pass from Brett Engelhardt through the legs of Dubielewicz at 13:23.
“I’m not at the panic point yet, but we have to evaluate,” said Sertich. “Some of these guys are running out of time. There’s some guys that are probably going to get a shot soon. Maybe the future is a little quicker than I thought.”