DENVER — In retrospect, given the circumstances, a tie makes sense.
With the No. 2 University of Denver Pioneers coming off the Denver Cup and the University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves playing their first game in a month, the two teams combined for a 1-1 tie Friday night at Magness Arena.
The teams exchanged goals in the first period, but that was all the scoring fans would see.
Denver got on the board first 7:13 into the game on a relatively fluky goal. Tyler Ruegsegger walked around the net to the right of Anchorage goaltender Jon Olthuis to the circle and fired a shot that clanked off the left post, off of Olthuis’s left leg and back in the net as Seawolf Craig Parkinson was trying to clear it away from harm.
The Seawolves tied it up about six minutes later when Curtis Leinweber skated around the right circle and took a shot from the high slot that beat Pioneers’ goaltender Marc Cheverie five-hole (27 saves).
From then on, the story of the game depends on which coach you talk to.
“I thought our guys did a great job after a long layoff in executing our game plan,” said UAA’s Dave Shyiak. “We’ve got to be proud of our effort tonight, but there’s more we can give.”
“I think that some of our guys, in fact, probably too many of our guys, thought it was going to be an easier game,” said his Denver counterpart, George Gwozdecky.
“When you’re not mentally ready and emotionally geared up and ready to go, you start out slow and all of a sudden, you realize that you’re feeling bad about the fact that you’re not keyed in and all of a sudden you start, not panicking, but you try to push yourself and all of a sudden you find yourself passing the puck when you should be shooting it, you find yourself overskating plays, being out of position because you’re trying to do something to kind of get yourself and the team going and all of a sudden, it becomes a comedy of errors,” he continued.
Despite the Pioneers’ play, they almost retook the lead about two minutes into the third on a power-play opportunity. Anchorage’s Trevor Hunt tried to clear a Pioneers shot from the slot that bobbled in the air up and over Olthuis (31 saves), but the puck never dropped behind him.
The Seawolves had the majority of the momentum at the end of the third period and carried it over into overtime.
“[I told the guys to] stick with the game plan, try to keep it simple, wait for them to make mistakes and try to capitalize on them,” said Shyiak. “We had a good look there [with] Tommy Grant all alone, but Cheverie made a good save. [We] could have ended it there.”
Instead, the game ended in a tie.
“[It was] just one of those games where you think, okay, glad we got the point; we certainly didn’t deserve the win,” said Gwozdecky. “In fact, if we would have won the game, we would have been cheating the game.”
The two teams face off again tomorrow night. Puck drop is at 7:07 Mountain.