DENVER — No head coach? No problem.
With George Gwozdecky serving a one game suspension Friday night, the University of Denver Pioneers performed admirably under the tutelage of assistant coach Steve Miller, defeating the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves, 6-2.
From the top of the roster, everybody contributed, said Miller. We had a great week of practice and thats where it started.
After a back-and-forth first period which the Pioneers mostly dominated, it looked like the two teams would go into the second scoreless until Luke Salazar scored a power play goal with 1:15 left in the frame. Kyle Ostrows shot made it past Seawolf netminder Jon Olthius (36 saves) and popped out to Salazar who was waiting unmolested on the back door and tapped the puck into a wide open net.
The Pioneers extended their lead to 2-0 1:19 into the second on a similar play, this time, even-strength. Dustin Jackson tipped a Patrick Wiercioch shot on net. Olthius made the initial save, but it popped out to his right where Anthony Maiani was waiting and knocked it in.
Normally were pretty good [with those plays] and we worked on it all week, said UAA coach Dave Shyiak. We were overall lethargic in our play and we didnt compete well. I thought the team let Jonny down.
Kyle Ostrow made it 3-0 four minutes later when he sniped a shot just underneath the crossbar past Olthius. The goal was first signaled, then waved off and then reviewed and given to the Pioneers at the next whistle.
I thought it went in right away, said Ostrow. I celebrated, but I noticed I was the only one celebrating so I was a little unsure at first, but guys were saying they thought it went in too, so I felt a little more confident after that.
With 5:01 to play in the second, Wiercioch put DU up 4-0 with a power play blast from the high slot that went over Olthiuss right shoulder.
UAA cut the lead to three with 2:20 to go in the period with a power play tally of their own. Trevor Hunt took a shot from the point that bounced off of Pioneer goaltender Marc Cheveries (24 saves) glove and in.
The Pioneers regained the four-goal cushion 2:42 into the third period. Brandon Vossberg carried the puck from behind the Seawolf net to the low slot and backhanded it over Olthiuss glove to make it a 5-1 game.
Sean Wiles sniped a shot far side past Cheverie from the right circle to make it 5-2 with just under 14 minutes remaining in the contest. However, it was the Pioneers who would have the final say in scoring when Joe Colborne took a Patrick Mullen pass and fired it low just inside the left post past Olthius.
Thats the most shots weve given up in two years and weve got to get better, said Shyiak, referencing the final total of 42 shots against. What can I say? They executed and we didnt.
I thought we handled their pressure, because they come at you, said Miller. I thought we handled their pressure well.
The two teams face off again Saturday night. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. MT.