DENVER — In a very physical exhibition against the University of Calgary Dinos, the University of Denver Pioneers rode a three-point night by freshman Anthony Maiani to a 5-1 victory.
Maiani (1-2–3) first got on the scoreboard by setting up Rhett Rakhshani’s eventual game-winning goal just 49 seconds into the second period. Rakhshani dropped the puck for Maiani to the left of Dino netminder Scott Talbot, circled around the net and tipped the pass back from Maiani past Talbot.
“Maiani gets the loose puck and everybody is waiting for Maiani to shoot,” said Denver coach George Gwozdecky of the Shelby Township, Mich., native who the Pioneers initially planned to have spend another year in juniors.
“Most guys would shoot, but most guys don’t have the vision that Anthony does and Anthony senses that all of a sudden, takes a quick peek and he sees Rhett coming around the net the other side completely unguarded and it’s just a great pass and a little tap-in.”
Sophomore Brock Trotter started off the scoring late in the first period, with a backhand shot behind his back that beat Talbot just inside the right post.
The Pioneers added to their lead in the second, getting the Rakhshani goal as well as a power play tally by freshman Tyler Bozak.
Denver also lost forward Rhett Rakhshani in the middle frame after Calgary’s Jevon Desautels put an open-ice hit on Rakhshani with his head down, which incited some words between the two teams.
“He got his bell rung pretty good and he’s still a little foggy,” said Gwozdecky. “[We] don’t know if he’s going to be ready to go this weekend or not.”
Gwozdecky’s Pioneers started off the third period the same way as the second — with a quick goal by Maiani.
Halfway through the period, the rough play that started in the second escalated a bit further. Pioneer goaltender Marc Cheverie stopped Calgary’s Conlan Seder on a partial breakaway. Seder’s momentum, however, carried him into Cheverie and bodies started to fly everywhere, resulting in matching minors.
Kyle Ostrow scored during the ensuing four-on-four to give the Pioneers a 5-0 lead, but Andre Blanchette ruined Denver’s shutout hopes. With Trotter in the box for holding, Blanchette fired a laser from the point with six minutes left in the third past a screened Cheverie to put the Dinos on the board.
Tensions finally boiled over with about three and a half minutes to go in the game when Patrick Mullen fell into the Calgary net after a shot and punched Talbot in the head. As could be expected, a mini-brawl — or the closest you’ll get in a college hockey exhibition game — broke out, with Calgary’s Reid Jorgensen and Dan Ehrman and DU’s J.P. Testwuide each getting double-minors for roughing and Mullen getting essentially a triple-minor for roughing.
Calgary continues on to Air Force Monday night while DU plays a two-game series against the University of Maine Black Bears next weekend.