It took 65 minutes plus five rounds of a shootout, but the University of Denver Pioneers beat the Holy Cross Crusaders, 3-2, to earn a Wells Fargo Denver Cup championship game date with the Boston University Terriers.
â€œIâ€™m not real pleased with what our execution was, especially from an offensive standpoint throughout the game,â€ said Pioneer coach George Gwozdecky. â€œ[But] we came in with the idea that we wanted to advance to the championship game to defend our championship and weâ€™ve been able to do that.â€
The Pioneers started off the scoring a mere 1:05 into the game. Anthony Maiani backhanded a pass from behind the Holy Cross net to Jesse Martin who skated across the crease and tapped it in past Crusader netminder Adam Roy.
Although the Pioneers had a myriad of chances throughout the rest of the period — particularly on the power play, they failed to get another goal, despite outshooting Holy Cross 22-6 in the frame. Perhaps the Pioneersâ€™ best chance came within the last minute of the period on a power play when Roy lost his stick in the midst of a flurry in front of the net, but DU couldnâ€™t convert.
â€œAfter that first period where they were on the power play for eight minutes and loaded up on shots, the rest of the game was fairly even, I thought,â€ said Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl. â€œThey got chances, we got chances and we were able to hang in there.â€
Indeed, the Crusaders knotted the game at one 6:01 into the second period on a disputed goal. An Everett Sheen backhander hit DU netminder Marc Cheverie, bounced up high in the air and back down to the ice where Sheen got his own rebound and knocked it in past Cheverieâ€™s right pad. The goal was reviewed to see if it was knocked down by a J.P. Martignetti high stick, but it stood.
However, the Pioneers regained the lead with just 51.3 seconds remaining in the middle frame. Shawn Ostrow took a go-ahead pass from Joe Colborne and roofed a shot over Royâ€™s left shoulder from the left face-off dot to make it 2-1 DU.
Holy Cross had a good chance to tie the game up at the 14:19 mark of the third period when Cheverie bobbled a Martignetti shot from the point and almost knocked it in, but Cheverie was able to fall on the puck in the crease.
The Pioneers thought they went up 3-1 about two minutes later on a fluky play. Cody Brookwell tossed the puck back into the Crusader zone from the red line where it hit official Pete Friesmaâ€™s skate and slid into the net past a diving Roy attempting to get back in his net. However, due to rule 6-18-c-6 in the NCAA ice hockey rule book — which clearly states that â€˜[i]f the puck hits an official and goes directly into the netâ€ the goal is disallowed — it was deemed to be no goal.
Still, Friesma and his partner Don Adam reviewed the goal to make sure Roy didnâ€™t touch the puck as it was going in the net for, if he did, the goal would stand. After at least a good five minutes of review, the no goal call stood.
â€œThey were just making sure it was right,â€ said Pearl. â€œIf it takes 20 minutes, itâ€™s worth it to get it right. Thatâ€™s why they put replay in.â€
The teams battled back and forth throughout the rest of the third until the Crusaders tied up the game
on a power play tally with 5:21 remaining. Sheen scored his second of the night, roofing a tough angle shot from Mark Znutas past Cheverie, popping the water bottle off the top of the net.
The goal sent the teams to overtime where neither team managed to score. As a result of it being a tournament, the teams then went to a shootout.
The teams were tied after the first three rounds of the shootout — Denverâ€™s Luke Salazar and Rhett Rakhshani scored while Sheen and Jordan Cyr scored goals for Holy Cross.
Both teams then exchanged goals, with both DUâ€™s Colborne and HCâ€™s Brodie Sheahan scoring. In the fifth round, Maianiâ€™s stick-side shot past Roy sealed the deal for the Pioneers as Cheverie stopped Jay Silviaâ€™s stick side attempt.
â€œI just gotta make it,â€ said Cheverie when asked what he was thinking after Maiani scored. â€œThe time was coming anyway and they were going to score every shot so I had to step up eventually and I failed the previous times and I really didnâ€™t want to let my team down.â€
While Maianiâ€™s shot won the game, Sheenâ€™s backhanded 360-degree spin-o-rama goal stole the show for the fans.
â€œIâ€™ve been working on [that move] since I was a little kid and Iâ€™ve always wanted to do it in a game and I just figured, why not now?â€ said Sheen. â€œI probably feel more comfortable with that move than with any other.â€
Holy Cross will face the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers in the consolation game of the Wells Fargo Denver Cup Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. Mountain, while DU moves on to face Boston University in the championship game at 7 p.m.