DENVER — When University of Denver goaltender Marc Cheverie was injured back on October 30, all he wanted was to be healed up and back on the ice for the Pioneers’ series against the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux.
Cheverie made it back in time for the Sioux series and performed in spectacular fashion, stopping all 34 UND shots to help his Pioneers beat North Dakota, 1-0, in a typically physical game between the two squads.
“I thought it was typical of what people expected,” said DU coach George Gwozdecky. “It was emotional at times, chippy at times, very physical.”
The teams battled through a first period that, while scoreless, was exciting nevertheless.
Denver jumped on the Sioux early with pressure, and the evident bad blood between the two squads showed its face just 2:07 in, with both sides pushing and shoving.
Even though they were outshot 14-6, the Sioux had arguably the best chances of the period. Just under seven minutes in, UND had a shot that the fans thought was a goal, but was gloved down by Cheverie before it had a chance to go in. Then, with six minutes remaining, Darcy Zajac bobbled a short-handed solo chance in front of the net and, about a minute later, Corban Knight one-timed a shot off the left post.
“We had some great opportunities,” said Sioux coach Dave Hakstol. “[But] we weren’t able to capitalize on them through the first two periods.”
At the end of the frame, the teams continued with the extra-curricular activity they started early on, with both coaches getting on the ice to pull their players apart.
“You save your best hits and your most intense moments for your big rivalries,” said Gwozdecky of the game’s physicality. “Everybody wants to play in these games, but I think what people don’t understand at times is how competitive these two teams can be and how competitive great athletes are.
“Both teams expected it to be physical.”
The Sioux continued to rack up the chances in the second period, but it was Denver who finally broke the scoreless tie at 10:07 on a Drew Shore power-play goal. Jesse Martin passed the puck across the front of the crease to Shore, who tapped it in under a sliding Brad Eidsness (33 saves).
The Pioneers thought they took a 2-0 lead five minutes later when it appeared as if a crashing Kyle Ostrow knocked the puck in the net as well as the net off its moorings. However, the view of the play was inconclusive on whether the puck ever crossed the line before the net came off, so the goal was void.
Denver took their one-goal lead into the third and buckled down defensively, stifling the Sioux at seemingly every opportunity, especially when North Dakota upped the pressure in the later minutes of the period.
Hakstol pulled Eidsness to try and get the equalizer, but Cheverie and the Pioneers stopped every Sioux attempt.
“For the most part, we did a pretty good job of defending and shielding and not letting them get extra chances and obviously Marc did a very, very good job of angling shots off to the side [and] pouncing on rebounds that did come out,” said Gwozdecky. “He was pretty much in control the whole night.”
“They were moving early, we were standing; they were better early and we were better late,” said Hakstol. “That kind of sums up the game and there was a little transition period in the middle.”
The two teams play again tomorrow night at Magness Arena, with the puck dropping at 7:07 p.m.