DENVER — After he saw the Michigan Tech University Huskies break their 26-game winless streak against his team, University of Denver coach George Gwozdecky knew he had to make some changes.
The changes apparently worked, as the Pioneers rebounded Saturday night to beat the Huskies, 5-1, to earn the series split.
“After watching our game last night late into the night, there was no question we had to simplify our game,” said Gwozdecky. “What we did was basically set two game objectives that we wanted to do, one from an offensive standpoint and one from a defensive standpoint, and we hit both objectives for the most part.”
For the seventh consecutive game, the Pioneers gave up the first goal of the game. Four and a half minutes in, Ryan Furne took a pass out of the corner from Jacob Johnstone and one-timed it five-hole past DU goaltender Adam Murray (18 saves).
“A while back, it was ‘Here we go again;’ now it’s almost standard for us,” said Gwozdecky. “It’s almost like we should say, ‘Folks, before the puck drops, we’ll give our opponent the one goal so we don’t have to deal with it about halfway through the first or whenever and we’ll just start the game from a one-goal deficit.’”
However, unlike last night, the Pioneers responded quickly. Just 93 seconds after MTU took a 1-0 lead, Drew Shore tied the game up for the Pioneers on a passing play around the Huskies net. Shore took a pass and dropped it behind the net for Jason Zucker. Zucker then passed the puck up to Matt Donovan at the top of the left circle. Donovan then slid the puck back across to Shore on the far side of the net, who tapped it in behind Tech goalie Kevin Genoe (31 saves).
Shore’s brother, Nick, put the Pioneers up 2-1 about five minutes later right as a penalty to Drew expired. Zucker dug a rebound from a Nick Shore shot on net out of the corner and threw it on net, where a crashing Shore tapped it past Genoe.
The Pioneers continued their offensive onslaught in the second period, starting with a quirky David Makowski short-handed goal 4:36 into the period. Six seconds after DU’s John Ryder went into the box for delay of game for shoving the net off its moorings, Drew Shore won a faceoff in the Pioneers zone back to Makowski. Makowski, thinking he was making a routine clear, saw his puck that he sent sailing into the Tech end take a fluky bounce and hop into the net past Genoe to make it 3-1.
“That’s a tough one to recover from,” said MTU coach Jamie Russell. “I thought Kevin did a good job moving forward and mentally bouncing back after that, but that’s a tough break. It’s a 2-1 game — for Kevin’s sake, I hope it’s not on SportsCenter.”
“It was one of those rare things where the way he shot it, it got up in the air and with the backdrop, he might have lost it and then it was a short hop and obviously changed direction,” said Gwozdecky. “At that point, we’re defending a one-goal lead and it’s a huge swing. We get the goal, they don’t tie it up; that’s a huge, huge swing in our favor.”
DU added a power-play goal a little over halfway through the period to make it 4-1. Murray picked up a Huskies clear and left it for Beau Bennett. Bennett skated up the ice and passed it to Dustin Jackson just inside the blue line, who in turn dished it back to Bennett, who tipped it high past Genoe.
Luke Salazar added one more tally halfway through the third when he broke into the zone and sent a shot from the top of the right circle that deflected off a Tech player high past Genoe.
“I think you have to give Denver credit; they played with a lot more desperation and urgency tonight. I thought they were more physical,” said Russell.
Note: As of the writing of this game story, Makowski’s goal indeed made ESPN’s SportsCenter and was the number three play.
Interview with Adam Murray
Interview with Drew Shore
Interview with Jamie Russell
Interview with George Gwozdecky