Denver Defeats Air Force 4-1 in David Carle’s Debut as Head Coach

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The Pioneers came into Cadet Ice Arena Friday night ready to compete

After a long off-season, the Denver Pioneers were certainly excited to get back to work Friday night in Colorado Springs against the Air Force Falcons.  With half of the top six forwards being rookies, it was difficult to predict how the team would play, but chemistry was there.

The Pios weren’t perfect, but they held control throughout most of the tilt keeping the Falcons at a safe distance.  The final score was 4-1 in a game filled with penalties.  The Pioneers will certainly have to clean that up before their game tomorrow against Alabama-Huntsville.

Here’s how the game broke down by period.

First period

The period began and you wouldn’t have even known that former head coach Jim Montgomery wasn’t behind the bench.  The Pios were firing on all cylinders chasing pucks into the corners and cycling low to high.  And just minutes into the frame, Jake Durflinger drove to the net and hammered home his own rebound by Air Force goaltender Billy Christopoulous.

Five minutes later, the Pioneers were on a five-on-three powerplay when Emilio Pettersen found Ian Mitchell in the high slot who scored on a beautiful wrist shot.  For the rest of the period, it was all Pioneers.  The Falcons had just four shots on goal, but Pioneers goaltender Devin Cooley made all of his saves count.  There were a couple good opportunities for the Falcons, but Cooley kept his rebounds somewhat under control.

Second period

The momentum shifted to Air Force as they came out forechecking hard in the second period.  They kept getting the puck deep on the Pioneers who were stuck in their own zone for a good while.  But after several high-pressure situations, the Pioneers escaped from danger without giving up any goals.

Seven minutes into the period, Pioneers forward Emilio Pettersen got in behind the Air Force defense and scored a beautiful forehand-backhand goal that silenced the building.

The Falcons went on the powerplay late in the second period from a Michael Davies minor penalty and finally got on the board with a powerplay goal from Evan Geisler.  The period ended with the Pioneers leading the Falcons 3-1 and ahead 20-17 in shots.

Third period

Four minutes into the third period, the Pioneers scored when Cole Guttman put back a rebound from an Emilio Pettersen shot from the corner.  The line of Guttman, Pettersen, and Lukosevicius combined for an impressive six points on the night.

The Falcons didn’t give up easy though, especially giving the Pioneers a hard time on the powerplay late in the game.  But Denver prevailed killing off all three penalties they took in the period.

What we learned

It was certainly strange seeing 5, 7 and 19 skating on the ice for the Pioneers and it not being Henrik Borgstrom, Dylan Gambrell, and Troy Terry, but the new kids sure can play.  Emilio Pettersen stood out the most tonight with a goal and two assists on five shots.  His speed and play-making ability makes the Pioneers top line a serious threat this year.

We also learned that David Carle knows what to do to win.  The Pioneers looked like they were in great shape tonight finishing checks and hounding the puck like there was no tomorrow.  It didn’t seem to matter what the score was, Carle’s players hunted the puck and maintained pressure on Air Force all game.

It should also be noted that goaltender Devin Cooley held his own stopping 22 of 23 shots and only allowing one goal.  The Falcons had several quality chances, but the Pioneers were dedicated to blocking shots and clearing the zone to protect their goaltender.

Up next

The Pioneers host the University of Alabama-Huntsville Chargers Saturday night for homecoming weekend.  It won’t be David Carle’s first game behind the Pioneers bench, but it will be his first home game as head coach.  Coming off a big win at Air Force, Magness Arena will be rocking for the home opener.  Hopefully the Pioneers can make this weekend a clean sweep before welcoming Alaska-Fairbanks.