DU hockey (4-1-1) went back on the ice Saturday night following a spotty performance Friday against Augustana. One LetsGoDU reader observed following the tie with the Augies, “The first 10 minutes showed a difference in talent (3-0 DU) and the last 50+ minutes (5-2 Augustana) showed the difference in heart.” Saturday night against a scrappy Air Force team was certain to be a test of both as Denver took to the ice on this snowy Hoctoberfest game.
Denver answered the bell in the first period with fast, physical play. Big freshman goaltender Freddie Halyk, 6’5 210 pounds, had a rock-solid opening twenty minutes. Finally, a rip from the high point from Massimo Rizzo, assisted by Boston Bruckberger at 9:00 minutes, gave DU a 1-0 lead. DU added a pair of excellent PK’s and outshot the Falcons 11-6 in the opening period.
DU’s energy carried over early into the second period. Halyk stood on his head with a spectacular save early and Denver carried the pace of play. Unfortunately, Denver’s two power plays mid-period could not find pay dirt as the Pioneers could not penetrate the AFA defense. Later, a pair of penalties were called on Denver’s Sean Behrens and Connor Caponi, leaving DU two men short and Halyk on an island – the freshman keeper stood on his head yet again. Denver finally doubled up the score at 18:31 on a shot from the Pioneers’ freshman Cale Ashcroft off the back pads of the AFA goalie Guy Blessing as his shot ricochet into the cage, 2-0 DU.
DU controlled play the first ten minutes of the third period. In the final ten minutes, Halyk was required to make more beautiful saves to hold off some excellent Air Force scoring opportunities. At 5:44 Massimo Rizzo went coast-to-coast down the ice and poked in a goal, his second of the game, 3-0 Denver. DU’s Carter King scored a red-line empty netter to finish off the scrappy and frustrated visitors, 4-0, who grew increasingly agitated by the score and Denver’s swarming style of play.
Denver got physical, showed heart, played in space and flashed Pioneer hockey. It wasn’t a perfect skill game by any measure for a young Pioneers side who can improve on both end of the ice. And yes, while it is only one game, my oh my – Freddie Halyk looks like the real deal. He owned the crease and seized the opportunity. The Gold Rush uniforms looked sharp on the ice but the most valuable discovery of the night may be Halyk.