It might possibly have been the emptiest Magness Arena has ever been when arch-rivals Denver and Colorado College faced off tonight, due to a severe snowstorm that pounded the Denver metro area.
The Tigers left Colorado Springs early and ended up cooling their heels for over three hours before warmups when their bus made it without incident. The arena was probably only 60 or 70 percent full as CC scraped to a 2-0 shutout win.
Colorado College goalie Josh Thorimbert made 29 saves. The last time the Tigers shutout the Pioneers was also at Magness, back on March 2, 2007.
“It’s tough to come into Denver and get a win and to play a solid team game against a team like that, to get the shutout is a pretty good feeling,” said Thorimbert.
“We got here at quarter to five; the roads weren’t bad coming up,” said Tigers’ coach Scott Owens. “We’re coming off an off-week and we’re excited to play. We wanted to get off to a good start. I thought they were flat as much as we were good in the first period.”
Perhaps the early start did the Tigers good, as they got off to a fast start and dominated Denver in the first period, outshooting the Pioneers 15-4 and causing Denver to take several penalties as they frantically scrambled in its own zone.
“The first period, I thought they were quicker, they were faster, they moved the puck so much better than we did,” said Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky. “The game could have been over in the first period, but [DU goalie] Sam [Brittain] was outstanding, as Thorimbert was in their goal as the game wore on. We didn’t do a very good job of forcing them to defend.”
One of those penalties cost them, as the Tigers struck first on a power play at 11:48 when Rylan Schwartz found brother Jaden hanging in the slot and Jaden quickly shot it past Brittain off the pass.
The Pioneers were unable to regroup and the Tigers got another power play late in the period when Denver captain Dustin Jackson got called for an instigation penalty against Aaron Harstad. Both players got five-minute majors for fighting and game misconducts, but CC was unable to take advantage of the extra penalty.
“They probably got a wake up call between periods and they came out with great jump,” said Owens. “We bent a little bit, but we didn’t break. I thought Josh was outstanding for us again.”
Denver regrouped during the intermission and came out with much more fire in the second, getting better scoring opportunities. The best came late in the period when Jason Zucker broke in on a partial breakaway, but Thorimbert got his blocker on Zucker’s shot.
“He kind of grabbed the puck quick and I made sure I was going to challenge him,” said Thorimbert. “He was on his forehand and I just stuck out my blocker and made a save. I just got a piece of it, enough that it went over the net.”
The third featured more back-and-forth action, but Denver’s Jarrod Mermis earned a five-minute major for boarding with at 13:53 and that almost killed any chance for a Denver rally. Zucker had a couple of shots on rushes up the left side boards while short-handed, but Thorimbert made the saves.
Right after the penalty expired, Gwozdecky pulled Brittain, but it backfired, as his tired players were unable to get off the ice and turned the puck over in the Denver zone to David Civitarese, who fired the puck into the empty net at 19:11.
“It would have been nice to have finished it off,” said Owens of the power play. “I was disappointed we didn’t finish it off on the power play. However, we really did a pretty good job with puck movement. Territorially, we had it down there, we were wearing some of their guys down.”
Denver did get one last chance, but Joey LaLeggia’s shot from the right point hit the left post and the puck hung at the goal line, giving Civitarese a chance to tuck it back into Thorimbert to preserve the shutout.
“Luck was on my side definitely; a few posts,” said Thorimbert. “It was nice to get the shutout. We played a solid team effort. It’s been a great team effort and I got some luck, a few posts, a few missed open nets. ‘Civ’ saved my butt at the end of the game. The goalie gods were on my side, that’s for sure.”