DENVER — Despite losing goaltender Marc Cheverie to injury early in the third period, the No. 2 University of Denver Pioneers held on to beat the Minnesota State University, Mankato Mavericks 4-3 Friday night.
Both teams exchanged chances throughout the first period, with Pioneers’ goaltender Marc Cheverie making goal-line stops and his Mavericks’ counterpart Austin Lee stoning Pioneers’ rushes, causing both squads to carry goose eggs on the scoreboard into the second period.
“I thought both goaltenders made some saves early on, kept the game tight,” said Mavericks’ coach Troy Jutting. “[It was] pretty focused for both teams.”
The teams broke through the scoreless drought with a vengeance to open up the second, combining for three goals in 96 seconds.
The Mavericks started it off, breaking the scoreless tie just 32 seconds in when Rylan Galiardi beat Cheverie high stick-side on a three-on-two rush. The goal also ended Cheverie’s shut-out streak at 223:51, the longest shut-out streak in DU history.
The Pioneers’ Jesse Martin evened the score at one 58 seconds later on a three-on-two goal of his own. Martin broke into the zone and sent a backhand across the crease that may have been intended for Luke Salazar, but instead went in the net glove-side past Lee (31 saves)
Then, 38 seconds after that, MSU’s Andrew Sackrison put a tough-angle shot from the bottom of the right circle five-hole past Cheverie (25 saves) to give the Mavericks a 2-1 lead.
However, DU tied the game back up almost two minutes later on a power play. Joe Colborne, screening Lee, tipped a Patrick Wiercioch wrist shot past the goaltender to tie the game back up.
The Pioneers lost Cheverie 2:31 into the third period due to a left leg injury.
Wiercioch hooked Justin Jokinen and, while falling, Jokinen got tangled up with Cheverie on his way down to the ice. The training staffs of both teams, as well as paramedics, attended to Cheverie, taking him off the ice on a stretcher. Pioneers’ coach George Gwozdecky sent Adam Murray (seven saves) into the nets to replace him.
“I didn’t know what to think; it didn’t look like the collision was that severe,” said Gwozdecky. “The first thing I knew was when one of our guys came over and said that he’d been cut.”
Inspired, the Pioneers took their first lead of the game on Martin’s second goal of the night. Martin took a pass from Salazar and, in the process of being hooked down to the ice, wristed it five-hole past Lee at 4:50.
“Obviously that’s a crucial time of the game,” said Gwozdecky. “The score’s 2-2, you’re in the third period and the next goal could be the winner and we’ve got to replace a goaltender who has been the hottest goaltender in the country with a freshman.
“But, we got through it, and Jesse Martins line was outstanding for us all night long. I think we all felt really bad for Marc and you’re never quite sure what the status is going to be, especially when he gets taken off on a stretcher like that.”
Denver took a 4-2 lead 3:30 later when a crashing Matt Glasser tipped a tough-angle pass from Salazar five-hole past Lee.
However, the Mavericks weren’t done fighting.
Eriah Hayes narrowed the lead back down to one goal on a solo effort, beating Murray over his right shoulder with 8:01 remaining in the frame.
Despite being short-handed to end the game, Jutting pulled Lee for the extra attacker with 44 seconds left to try and tie the game, but the gamble failed to pay off.
“The difference is one goal in a 60 minute hockey game where there’s 35 shots each, said Jutting. “It’s a bounce here, a break there. Their power-play goal was deflected in front. That’s the difference in the hockey game.”
The two teams face off again Saturday night at 7:07 p.m. MST.