DENVER — Sometimes, hockey is all about taking advantage of opportunities. Such was the case Saturday night at Magness Arena when, despite being dominated for much of the first period, the University of Denver Pioneers scored on a five-on-three advantage late in the frame and never looked back, beating the Minnesota State University, Mankato Mavericks 6-1.
“When you’re outshooting a team 11-2 or whatever it was at that one point in time and it’s still 0-0, it’s one thing to be playing pretty good, especially when you’re on the road, you’ve got to find something there,” said MSU coach Troy Jutting. “I give them credit. They took advantage when they needed to and they really gained a lot of momentum from that.”
The goal in question came with 5:30 left in the first when Anthony Maiani netted his first of the season. Maiani, hanging out to MSU goaltender Phil Cook’s left, took advantage of the extra ice space to one-time a pass from Matt Donovan high past Cook (19 saves).
“Until we scored that power-play goal, we were a pretty average team,” said DU coach George Gwozdecky. “We needed some type of emotional boost and certainly the power-play goal gave us that and it carried over into our second and third.
Denver added two more goals before the period was out. Luke Salazar deflected a Jason Zucker shot from the corner high past Cook with 1:07 left and then 23 seconds later, Beau Bennett took a pass from the high slot, spun around and fired it under Cook’s left shoulder for his first career goal.
“I thought we were playing pretty good up until that point in time and then gave up the three goals,” said Jutting.
The Mavericks got on the board with three and half minutes left in the second period with the two teams playing four-on-four. Eli Zuck sent a wrist shot from the high slot low stick side past DU goaltender Sam Brittain (29 saves).
Despite the late goal, the Pioneers came out with the momentum in the third, scoring just 41 seconds in. Salazar came around the left side of the net and backhanded a shot five-hole past Cook for his second of the night.
“I thought in the second we came out and gave ourselves a chance, but never really jumped on it,” said Jutting. “We got the one back and unfortunately gave up the soft one to start the third and it kind of killed us.”
“That first goal and the fourth goal were maybe the keys that gave us that emotional boost throughout the game to be successful,” said Gwozdecky.
The Pioneers made it 5-1 on their second five-on-three goal of the game four minutes later when David Makowski’s shot from the high slot made it through traffic to beat Cook, prompting Jutting to replace him with Austin Lee (10 saves).
Maiani closed off the scoring with 1:35 left to play in the game when he beat Lee short-side short-handed for his second goal of the game and 100th career point.
“It’s nice to see Anthony score; he’s really been struggling,” said Gwozdecky. “To be able to score that first power-play goal, and then come down late in the third period and score that goal, it hopefully gets him back in a good state and a good frame of mind.”
The Pioneers next host Bemidji State at home while the Mavericks are off.