George Gwozdecky called “resilience” an overused term. Of course, when a team has as many come-from-behind wins as Denver, the term is going to be thrown out a lot.
The Pioneers forced overtime in the final three minutes for the second game in a row Saturday against Western Michigan in the Midwest Regional semifinal. Denver also played a scoreless overtime period for the second game in a row but unlike last Saturday’s WCHA Final Five title game against North Dakota, the Pioneers scored in double overtime.
“For those who were ready to write us off, you should know better,” said Gwozdecky, Denver’s coach. “You have to look at the leaders in the locker room. Whether it’s something they’re doing or saying, they are determined to come back. It starts at the top.”
Jason Zucker’s winner set Denver up for a rematch with the Fighting Sioux on Sunday.
WMU was 4:29 away from advancing, holding a two-goal lead late in the third period against a Pioneers offense that had been stagnant all game.
“We’ve been in that position many times [trailing after two periods],” said Denver’s Kyle Ostrow. “The talk was that if we get one goal, [the goals] will start coming. It’s the way our team is. We have that never-give-up attitude.”
The Pioneers outshot the Broncos 14-7 in the third period and Ostrow finally put the Pioneers on the board with 4:29 to go. Two minutes and seven seconds later, Matt Donovan’s shot from the point somehow made it through traffic and found the back of the net.
Denver’s Anthony Maiani sent the Final Five title game to overtime with 2:13 left in the third period. David Makowski scored the game-tying goal for the Pioneers against Minnesota State in Game 2 of the first round of the WCHA Playoffs on March 12. The night before, Denver trailed the Mavericks 2-0 going into the third period but Beau Bennett tied the game with eight minutes left and Shawn Ostrow scored the winner five minutes later.
“This team has shown throughout the year that our third period is our best period,” Gwozdecky said.
Denver has outscored opponents 13-1 in the third period in five playoff games.