DENVER — In a preview of what will be a regular season WCHA match-up next season, the No. 2 University of Denver Pioneers shut out the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks, 7-0, in the first night of Wells Fargo Denver Cup action Friday night at Magness Arena.
The Pioneers got on the board early and never looked back. Just over three minutes into the first period, Anthony Maiani picked off an attempted UNO clearing attempt, skated down the center of the zone and fired the puck past Mavericks’ goaltender John Faulkner (21 saves).
“They dominated us from the beginning of the game, really from their second shift,” said UNO associate head coach Mike Hastings, filling in for head coach Dean Blais. “One thing about Denver is they don’t need any help creating their offense. They’re a good enough team — and we just weren’t very difficult to play against.
“They’re too good of a team to be contributing to their offense.”
Only 2:38 later, Denver went up 2-0 on a short-handed play. Maiani picked off a pass in the Denver zone, skated it all the way down the ice and passed it to Jesse Martin at the last second, who tapped it in past Faulkner.
“[Maiani got] off to a great start tonight with a goal and an assist and played well,” said Pioneers’ coach George Gwozdecky. “He got us off as a team to a great start.”
The first period Pioneers’ goal outburst ended 9:04 into the frame on senior Cody Brookwell’s first goal of the season. Tyler Ruegsegger, behind the UNO net, passed the puck to Brookwell in the slot, whose shot trickled through Faulkner’s legs and in.
After that, the game quieted down until a little over eight minutes into the second, when the Pioneers scored their fourth of the game. Patrick Wiercioch skated around the net and passed the puck in front to Rhett Rakhshani, who took a shot from the low slot past an extremely out of position Faulkner.
The Mavericks had several chances in the latter half of the middle frame to get on the board, but the Pioneers and netminder Marc Cheverie (29 saves) stood strong.
“It was one of those games where he was kept busy, but fortunately wasn’t tested a lot,” said Gwozdecky. “He really maintained his focus, he was right on his game and when we did make those mistakes in front of him those half a dozen times, he was right on.”
“He’s a good goaltender, [but] ultimately, you’ve got to find a way to get people in front of him; you’ve got to find a way to get a puck by him, and we didn’t do that,” said Hastings. “It started to build a little bit, as he got into a rhythm. I thought most of the pucks tonight he saw and we talked about that before the game. We said if he sees them, he’s going to stop them.”
Just 1:46 into the third period, Rakhshani scored his second of the game to put the Pioneers up 5-0. A crashing Rakhshani tipped a Ruegsegger backhand shot past Faulkner, chasing the redshirt freshman for senior Jeremie Dupont (7 saves).
Hastings finally pulled Faulkner due to a “lack of support.”
“That was honestly, the game that John played, we left him on an island and I thought that was enough,” Hastings continued.
Denver scored two more goals to end the game. At 12:22 of the period, Kyle Ostrow one-timed a pass from Drew Shore past Dupont for a power-play tally. Then, with 3:36 remaining in the period, Rakhshani picked up the puck at the goal line, skated up and around the zone and then fed Wiercioch, to the left of Dupont, who slammed it home to make it 7-0.
The Mavericks next face St. Lawrence tomorrow night in the Denver Cup while the Pioneers face Boston College.