HOUGHTON, Mich. — The Denver Pioneers’ attempted shot at redemption from the previous night’s loss ended in a 2-2 tie with the Michigan Tech Huskies.
“I think overall, our compete level was so much higher than it was last night, and because of it we were able to make a game of it,” commented Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky. “I thought it was a great game. They competed like they did last night, we were able to upgrade our compete level, and maybe it wasn’t the result we wanted, but I thought our performance was much better than it was last night.”
Milos Gordic, last season’s leading scorer for the Huskies, kept his scoring streak going by starting off the night’s scoring with a power-play goal.
While John Ryder was serving a minor for high sticking, Gordic and linemates Jordan Baker and Patrick McCadden rushed the net. Baker tried his luck on Pioneers goalie Juho Olkinuora, and the rebound landed in the crease. Gordic was there to throw the puck above Olkinuora’s glove, his fourth of the season and weekend, coming at 6:29 in the period.
Still looking for their first goal of the night after a couple of close calls, the chance came for the Pioneers when Huskies defender Carl Nielsen headed to the penalty box for a boarding call at 19:10.
The Pioneers created the scoring opportunity they were looking for with only 10 seconds left in the period. Ty Loney forced a shot headed straight into Huskies goalie Josh Robinson, who was waiting in the butterfly. The rebound went off Robinson’s stick and found its way over to the left side of the crease, where Jason Zucker was ready to net the puck for his fourth of the season at 19:50.
Huskies forward Aaron Pietila and Pioneers defenseman Josiah Didier took coincidental penalties for tripping and interference at 3:56 into the second. McCadden joined Pietila in the box, giving the Pioneers a four-on-three advantage 11 seconds later that Denver capitalized on with a top shelf goal from Joey LaLeggia at 5:34, giving the freshman defender his third goal of the season and second of the weekend.
The Huskies gave everything they had to tie the game in the third, and succeeded when a goal from captain Brett Olson put the Huskies back in the game at 12:35.
Third period play ended with the tie unbroken, and the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena saw its third overtime game of the season.
Despite close calls, neither team was able to pull ahead of the other in overtime, leaving the game at a 2-2 final.
Tonight’s game was Olkinuora’s first full game as a Pioneer, as he fills in for injured Adam Murray.
“I thought he played very well; I would say that his style is not the most efficient style, but what he lacks in efficiency he makes up for in competitive nature,” commented Gwozdecky of his freshman netminder. “Those two saves he made in the second period were a direct result of just competing so hard that all of a sudden it’s hard to believe. We needed him to play well to give us a chance, and he certainly provided that.”
The Huskies remain undefeated on home ice after skating to a win and a tie against the No. 2 team in the nation.
“I think tonight and this weekend our guys made a big step forward in how they think and how they believe in themselves, and we’re starting to believe we’re a pretty good hockey team that can compete on a nightly basis,” said Huskies coach Mel Pearson.
The Huskies look to extend their unbeaten home streak against Minnesota State Mankato, while the Pioneers return home for a series against Minnesota-Duluth.