Photo: Courtesy of Georgia Peachy
The match was much closer than the final score of 16-8 would indicate. In a highly physical contest, the first half ended with Denver holding a slim 4-3 advantage. However, Denver upped the defensive pressure and took advantage of turnovers and offensive opportunities to outscore the Vikings 12 to 5 in the second half.
On the keys that allowed DU to pull away, Coach Bill Tierney said, “We stuck with it. We didn’t need to re-do everything at half time. We just needed to keep going and stick with it and we finally started to break through.
The difference in the game was turnovers. Denver’s defense was smothering and caused 26 turnovers while the Pioneers only committed 11 of their own – a huge improvement from their first several games of the season. Defenders Dylan Johnson, Dylan Gaines, and Brett Greenlee are providing excellent defensive support to limit looks, disrupt offensive flow and force turnovers. On the physicality of the game, Tierney agreed, “It was physical. They’re a physical team. We’re not going to back down from that stuff – it is what it is.”
Denver could only muster wins on 9 of 28 faceoffs but Alex Ready was sharp in goal saving 9 shots (.563). Still, Denver’s defense is a strength of this years squad and the constant pressure took a toll on the Vikings, especially the second half.
Denver’s standout Ethan Walker led Denver with 5 goals and Ellis Geis, Colin Rutan and Alex Simmons had deuces for the game. Cleveland State’s scoring was led by sophomore Jack Hanna with a hat trick and five other Vikings netted a goal each.
After the game, Coach Bill Tierney said that he was not surprised with Cleveland State’s competitiveness, “We were expecting a great team. They are young and enthusiastic. You know their motivation. All these teams have great players.”
Never one to be satisfied with a solid game result, Tierney sees areas for further improvement. “Our clearing game is awful. Each game gives us a chance to review film and improve.”