COLUMBUS, Ohio — As No. 3 Denver came to Columbus for a battle with unranked Ohio State, the Pioneers played a different style than they did in their split against Vermont last weekend, earning a 2-0 victory Thursday night over the Buckeyes.
The Pioneers played in a pair of track-meets last week; however, Ohio State came in with a pair of back-to-back losses while only scoring a total of three goals in those games. Denver goaltender Marc Cheverie, who was bumped from his last start, was stellar, stopping all 36 Ohio State shots for his fifth career shutout. Ohio State’s Dustin Carlson stopped 30 of the Pioneers’ 32 shots.
“A lot of puck luck tonight so I cannot ask for anything more from my teammates tonight and from the hockey gods,” Cheverie said.
“(Cheverie) played well,” Ohio State coach John Markell said. “I watched the tape of them playing in Vermont and they were a little more critical of (Cheverie). But he came back with a big game. He responded well and I thought they defended well in front of him.”
“Tonight was a goaltender’s night,” Denver coach George Gwozdecky said. “Both goaltenders played well. We had some great chances and they made some great chances for themselves but the difference for us was Mark Cheverie.”
Markell added that he was pleased with Carlson’s performance.
“We need to put the puck in the net and give him a break,” Markell said.
Denver and Vermont combined for a total of 19 goals between their two games last week. The Pioneers posted 77 shots on goal in the two matches.
“If we can continue head north with out-numbered rushes to our advantage, we love that,” Gwozdecky said. “One of the biggest issues was (last week), especially last Saturday, was our position of play starting in the offensive zone was horrendous. Position of play was something we really had to work on this week.”
Denver notched the game winner at 10:43 of the first when captain forward Rhett Rakhshani scored on a wrap-around from the glove-to-stick side of Carlson.
Rakhshani had an opportunity for a second goal early in the second when he was tripped up going into the net by Ohio State defenseman Matt Bartkowski. He was awarded a penalty shot, but his shot sailed wide of Carlson’s glove.
Denver added an insurance goal 14:14 into the second when Drew Shore stole the puck in the slot from Ohio State’s Sean Duddy. Shore quickly posted a shot that trickled through Carlson’s five-hole. This was the only power-play goal of the game, as Denver went 1-7. Ohio State continued their miserable play on the man-advantage at 0-9. Ohio State is now 1-22 on power-play opportunities.
Ohio State gave by far their best effort of the young season. Forward Mathieu Picard found the far post in the first period. Picard tried again with a shot that was blocked by Cheverie and landed on top of the crossbar during a third period power play.
“I think tonight was a little bit of a positive even though we lost,” Ohio State’s Zac Dalpe said. “I just think we can play with them. We just need to start getting goals.”
“I was impressed with the way Ohio State played,” Gwozdecky said. “They certainly played hard and gave a pretty darn good effort.”
“We needed to create more puck luck,” Markell said. “I thought they are a fast hockey team, they are a strong hockey team, and that was a goal scorer’s goal. They were taking advantage of a few miscues in milliseconds and it was in our net. And it was good enough to win.”
Ohio State had an opportunity to cut Denver’s lead in half late in the second as they had a 1:37 five-on-three power play. Denver’s defense played large and did not allow any good opportunities on the two-man advantage.
The last time Denver visited Value City Arena was back in 2005 for a Frozen Four appearance. The Pioneers went on to dominate both games, beating Colorado College and North Dakota. Friday’s rematch with Ohio State will be held across town at Nationwide Arena, the home of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. Ohio State’s home arena is being used for a women’s conference game. This is the first time that Ohio State has not been able to use their home facility for a regular season game.
“I like staying in this building,” Gwozdecky said. “We have been pretty good in this building for the two times we have played in here. It is funny because both times, our goaltenders were outstanding.”