DENVER — In a game between two teams searching for identity and a pivotal time to get back on track, seemingly the only conceivable result was a tie, as the University of Denver Pioneers and University of Minnesota Golden Gophers battled it out to a 1-1 stalemate at Magness Arena on Friday night.
That was exactly what I wanted, said Pioneer head coach George Gwozdecky. I wanted to see our team come out and try to reestablish the game that were effective at, reestablish our identity, so to speak. I think we took a real, good, positive step forward doing that. We competed hard, we played with intensity, we made mistakes but we certainly didnt make mistakes out of lack of effort.
Obviously youd like the extra point, youd like the win, but Minnesota is a much improved team since before Christmas as well, so I thought it was a heck of a battle.
Gophers head coach Don Lucia, on the other hand, was content with the point for a different reason.
This is the first point weve had on a Friday night in a long time, he said. So the good thing is, we usually play better on Saturday, so hopefully that will happen tomorrow.
Both teams came out firing in the first period, though neither managed to score. The Gophers came the closest when a Mike Carman shot hit off the right post behind Pioneer netminder Peter Mannino, went through the crease and was kicked out by a stick-less Andy Thomas.
The Gophers also stymied the Pioneer power play, forcing the Pioneers to go 0-for-3 in the first period and 0-for-5 overall.
Weve done a good job penalty killing all year long and we had to kill what, three in the first ten minutes of the game, said Lucia. Six of the first 10 minutes we were short-handed and I thought that was a real pivotal point in the game where we didnt allow them to get a jump on us.
We had back to back to back power plays and we werent able to put the puck in the net, said Gwozdecky. That probably gave them life going into the second period because obviously being able to take the lead is big for us.
The Pioneers were able to take the lead at about the halfway point of the game, however, when Tyler Bozak intercepted a pass while short-handed, broke in on the Minnesota net all alone and slid the puck five-hole on Gopher goaltender Alex Kangas (25 saves).
It was a big time play, said Gwozdecky. Theyre on the power play, he makes a real nice [play], anticipates the pass from the flank, intercepts it, goes down and makes a real nice move on the goaltender.
The Gophers were able to get the goal back 11 minutes into the third period, however, when a Kevin Wehrs rebound came out to R.J. Anderson whose shot from the right point snuck past a screened Mannino (34 saves).
There was a little interference in front, felt a stick hit me in the face, lost my stick, said Mannino. I think it went up high, they took a shot and it got through. They did what they needed there.
The goal was reviewed due to possible goaltender interference, but it was ruled that a Pioneer player pushed a Gopher player into Mannino.
As the goal stood, it sent the teams into overtime where the extra five minutes of hockey were not enough to decide a victor.
I liked the fact that we came back in the third and got the tying goal, said Lucia. We had some chances in overtime and I thought both teams competed hard. We generated some good chances and again ” 30-some shots and score one goal? Thats our team.
Were happy with our effort, but were not content with the tie. We want a win, said Mannino.
It was fun to watch us compete, Ill be honest with you, said Gwozdecky. It was fun to watch us compete, it was a close game, a tough game, but it was good to see us compete and see us get out of our malaise, if you will.
The two teams face off again tomorrow night at 7:05 pm MST.