Photo Credit: University of Denver Athletics
With a 5-3 win on Saturday night at Steve Cady Arena in Oxford, Ohio, the Denver Pioneers secured an important weekend split with the Miami University RedHawks (10-12-3, 5-9-2 NCHC) to improve their record to 13-8-5 (9-5-2 NCHC) on the season.
Coming into the weekend, Miami was desperately in need of wins and they had been fairly successful over the past few games as they had won 3 straight over Bowling Green and Nebraska-Omaha. Denver, on the other hand, hadn’t lost in 2016 and was looking to extend its streak of good fortune through the weekend and strengthen their grip on 3rd place in the NCHC standings.
Friday Night: Miami 3 DU 1
Friday night’s game went about as poorly as it possibly could have for DU. Despite scoring the game’s first goal thanks to a highlight reel goal 7:06 into the game, Miami stifled nearly everything DU tried to do offensively.
Miami played like the desperate team they were coming into the weekend and Denver was unable to match that desperation and intensity. Throughout the evening, Miami’s size advantage gave the RedHawks a decided advantage all over the ice and in every aspect of the game. That size differential was a major factor in holding DU to only 21 shots all game.
Just a minute and a half after Heinen’s 11th goal, Anthony Louis beat DU goalie Evan Cowley to tie the game at 1 and open the scoring for Miami.
Despite maintaining no momentum at all throughout the opening frame, Denver entered the locker room tied with Miami at 1. In the opening 20 minutes, DU was outshot 13-6 and likely out-possessed nearly 2-to-1.
In the 2nd frame, neither team was able to do much offensively for most of the period. It wasn’t until the 17:36 mark of the middle period that Miami broke through. After a Matt VanVoorhis interference penalty, Jack Roslovic beat Cowley for the RedHawks’ second goal of the game to put Miami ahead for good.
In the third period, DU pressed hard and nearly scored the equalizer, but RedHawk goalie Jay Williams was too strong and turned aside every shot he faced.
With 23 seconds left and on their fifth power play of the night, Kevin Morris added an empty net goal to ice the game and clinch the RedHawks’ 4th consecutive victory while handing DU its first loss in 2016.
Saturday Night: DU 5 Miami 3
Saturday was a much different game for both teams. From the opening faceoff, it seemed that DU was a step ahead of Miami all night.
In the first period, Denver outshot Miami 13-8 and held an extreme 31-9 advantage in shots attempted. In short, DU controlled play throughout the period and Miami couldn’t get anything going offensively.
That was the case until the 18:18 mark of the opening period. After an egregious turnover by DU in the offensive zone, Jack Roslovic and Kiefer Sherwood raced down the ice on a 2 on 1 chance. At the last second, Roslovic passed the puck across the slot to Sherwood who shot the puck past Jaillet who bit hard on the move by Roslovic to give Miami a late first period 1-0 advantage.
The two teams entered intermission with the game at 1-0 in favor of the team in red. In the second period, DU picked up right where they left off. They controlled play and played stifling defense. At the 7:04 mark of the period, the effort paid off as Trevor Moore finally found the back of the net to tie the game at 1.
Just over 3 minutes later, DU struck again, this time on the power play. Thanks to an excellent screen set by Matt Marcinew in front of the net, Moore was able to shoot the puck off of Marcinew’s stick and over the goal line to give the Pioneers their second lead of the weekend.
Another 3 minutes passed and, at the 13:53 mark of the middle frame, Quentin Shore powered through the Miami defense and stuffed the puck past Williams to double DU’s lead, 3-1.
At this point, it felt and looked like Miami was out of the game. DU had taken control of the game and wasn’t going to release its stranglehold on the game anytime soon.
However, just 1:13 later, Miami pulled back to within 1 when Alex Gacek found the back of the net. This woke up all 2,834 fans in attendance. Despite Denver’s statistical dominance, Miami was back in the game and the crowd could sense it.
The 2nd period concluded without another goal and the two teams entered the second intermission with the score 3-2 in favor of the Pioneers (if you were counting, that was a combined 4 goals in the period).
The third period started quite well for Miami. They quickly established their presence in DU’s zone and just 1:26 into the period, the RedHawks tied the game at 3 thanks to a goal scored by Sean Kuraly.
Denver was bending, but they quickly started to take the play away from Miami and pressed hard offensively. Less than 3 minutes after Kuraly’s equalizing goal, Quentin Shore found the puck all alone in the slot after a Miami turnover and clanged the puck off of the inside of the post and into the back of the net. 4-3 DU. All of the momentum earned by Miami with their two straight goals was gone and DU was back in command of the game.
After their 4th goal, the Pioneers took on a playoff-like mindset. They did their best to get the puck deep into the offensive zone and keep it as deep as possible for as long as possible.
This strategy paid off as Miami was unable to generate anything offensively and, at the 16:28 mark of the regulation period, Nolan Zajac one-timed an incredible slap shot past Williams to give DU a much-needed insurance goal. 5-3 DU.
Miami pulled Williams a few different times, but the strategy didn’t work and the clock melted away to give Denver a much-needed victory.
On his second assist of Saturday’s game, Moore earned his 100th point as a Pioneer; Through the 2nd period of game two, DU had a 55-21 advantage in shots attempted and outshot Miami 31-22 in the game; Tanner Jaillet made his first appearance Saturday night since being pulled in game 1 against Minnesota-Duluth; Evan Cowley started game 1 against Miami; Miami has the #1 penalty-killing unit in the country (93.1%) and DU’s 33rd-ranked PP unit somehow scored a goal on the power play in game 2.
DU Hockey has a bye week next week
2/12 and 2/13
vs. North Dakota
8:06 PM & 7:06 PM (Note the time irregularity Friday)
Watch Fri: CBSSports
Watch Sat: ROOT Sports
Listen: 104.3 FM both nights