DENVER — After a hard-fought win on Friday night, Denver coach George Gwozdecky commented that Minnesota State always seems to play Denver tough. That didn’t hold Saturday night, as the No. 3 Pioneers blitzed the Mavericks with an offensive barrage en route to an 10-2 win before 5,911 fans at Magness Arena.
“If we can have those kind of attitudes as far as sharing the responsibility throughout this team, it’s going to be a very good year for us,” said Gwozdecky.
Shawn Ostrow, Drew Shore, and David Makowski each had four points, Jason Zucker had three points, and freshman Joey LaLeggia scored two goals to lead Denver.
“It’s always a nice feeling when you get 10 goals,” said Ostrow. “If one night we are struggling defensively, hopefully we can get a couple more to help us out.”
It didn’t take very long for Denver’s top line to set the scoring pace. In the first minute, Makowski fired a shot from the right point that Austin Lee made a save on, but he gave up a big rebound that came right to Zucker skating through the slot at the hashmarks. Zucker fired it into the open net at just 44 seconds of the game.
Minnesota State got the first power play when LaLeggia got called for holding. The Mavericks had a couple of chances, but Adam Murray made the stops. After the penalty expired, LaLeggia joined the rush with Beau Bennett and Ostrow. Ostrow passed it to LaLeggia, who dished it cross ice to Bennett. Bennett passed it back to LaLeggia, who one-timed it top corner from the right faceoff circle at 4:36 to notch his first collegiate goal.
Minnesota State’s best chance came late in the period when Murray robbed a point blank chance from Charlie Thauwald.
Denver’s quick strike offense opened up in the second period for three goals in a span of 1:47, and two of those were first collegiate goals. Drew Shore led a rush up the ice and got a shot on net from the top of the slot. Lee made the stop, but the rebound sat up for Daniel Doremus, who fired it into the open net at 3:11 for his first collegiate goal.
“It was nice to see that we started off fast, we played smart, took advantage of some of the things we’re supposed to do in the offensive zone last night that we didn’t do very well,” said Gwozdecky. “I thought we were a lot more disciplined in the offensive zone. We forced them to work harder.”
Minnesota State’s Adam Mueller got called for hooking after the goal. On the ensuing faceoff, Bennett got the puck along the left side boards and slid a pass to Zucker, who was left alone in front with time. He waited for Lee to commit forward, then shifted it to his forehand and fired it top corner stick side at 3:44.
“I think it was part inexperience and part a really short bench,” said Mavericks coach Troy Jutting. “I think a lot of young kids out there learning the game at the college level and obviously tired. I thought we played hard last night and just didn’t have it tonight.”
That was all on the night for Lee, who was replaced by Phil Cook. It did little to stop the bleeding. At 4:58, Scott Mayfield got a pass from Bennett and fired it at Cook from the right circle. Cook didn’t get enough of it, and it trickled off his pad through the five-hole at 4:58 for Mayfield’s first collegiate goal.
“Those two guys are my roommates actually, Danny Doremus and Scott Mayfield, so we’re all happy for each other,” said LaLeggia.
At 6:00 of the second, the Mavericks got a chance to build some momentum when Bennett got called for a five-minute major and game misconduct for charging. Pressing to try and get a goal, they left Cook vulnerable. Shortly after Cook stopped a breakaway bid by Drew Shore, Ostrow came down on a breakaway. He shifted the puck to his backhand as he skated through the slot to his left, lifting the puck top corner stick side at 6:52 for a 6-0 lead.
“Drew Shore right before that had a breakaway too and he did the exact same move and the goalie saved him, and I was hoping the goalie wouldn’t save me, so I was fortunate I got it up more than Drew did,” said Ostrow.
Denver wasn’t done yet. Late in the period, Ostrow carried the puck around the net to Cook’s left and slid a pass through the crease to Jarrod Mermis, who was left alone near the far post. Mermis fired it into the open net for his first of the year at 15:06.
Even penalties couldn’t slow Denver down. Early in the third, while short-handed, Drew Shore carried the puck down the right side and waited for Cook to cover his post, then slid a perfect pass through the crease to LaLeggia on the far post, who tapped it into the open net at 2:15 for his second of the night.
Though Murray had played well when needed, Minnesota State finally broke through on consecutive penalties when Matt Leitner carried the puck behind the net and passed it to Jean-Paul LaFontaine at the left side of the crease. LaFontaine one-timed it into the open net at 5:19, ruining Murray’s bid for his first shutout.
“I think our freshmen played really well,” said Jutting. “Matty Leitner had a couple assists tonight, both our goals were by freshman tonight. I think they’ve done a good job. They’re making some mistakes out there, but they’re making some plays too and they’ll continue to get better.”
The Mavericks power play broke through again on a nearly identical play at 6:40 when LaFontaine carried the puck behind the net and made a spinning behind-the-back pass to Zach Palmquist at the left side, who fired it into the open net at 6:40.
Murray, who made 33 saves, was finally replaced at 10:16 to give Juho Olkinuora some playing time.
The Mavericks had a five-on-three power play to make things interesting, but Denver killed it off. Instead, it was Denver who capitalized on the power play when Makowski got the puck at the left point, skated toward the center along the blue line and ripped a wrist shot top corner stick side at 12:16.
Shawn Ostrow got his second goal of the night on a power play at 16:29 when Josiah Didier fed him a pass at the far right post and he tipped it in to finish the scoring.
“The power play is definitely clicking,” said Ostrow. “We worked on it all week. It’s nice when the power play chips in and gets some goals for us, because down the stretch, power play and penalty kill make all the difference.”
Denver’s Shawn Ostrow
Denver’s Joey LaLeggia
Denver coach George Gwozdecky
Minnesota State’s Troy Jutting