Saturday, February 23, 2008

How Sweep It Is - DU Takes 4 Points From UAA

From Candace Horgan at USCHO

DENVER (Feb. 23) — One week after an emotionally devastating sweep at the hands of the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, the No. 8 Denver Pioneers came out with a strong team effort and swept the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves, clinching home ice for the WCHA playoffs with a 3-1 win in front of 6,031 fans at Magness Arena.
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“One of the things we try to do every year is get home ice for the playoffs,” said Pioneers’ coach George Gwozdecky. “We still have a ways to go though. I think it was a good step forward for us, to get two almost must wins, and I’m really pleased and proud with how our team responded.”

The Seawolves came out strong, looking to establish momentum early and get the Pioneers in a more defensive position. The Seawolves got the first power play of the game, though they couldn’t convert, and held the Pioneers without a shot for the first five minutes.

The Pioneers didn’t get any shots until they went on a power play, and, like Friday night, the special teams quickly capitalized. The Pioneers cycled the puck well and got off several good shots. Patrick Mullen made a great play to keep the puck in the zone, outracing a Seawolves’ player to a puck near the blue line, and moments later Mullen fired a shot on net that handcuffed Seawolves’ goalie Jon Olthuis. Olthuis gave up a rebound and couldn’t get back to his feet before Rhett Rakhshani crashed the net, picked up the rebound and fired it in at the 6:00 minute mark of the period.

“I think that was pretty big,” said Rakhshani. “It’s always pretty big to get the first goal of the game just for momentum. They were coming pretty hard and the momentum kind of shifted after that.”

Buoyed by the goal, Denver started to carry the play more, but were unable to build on their lead. When the Seawolves did generate an offensive chance, they seemed determined to crash Mannino as often as possible, knocking him after the whistle and drawing the ire of the Pioneers’ defensemen.

Defenseman J.P. Testwuide put the Pioneers up 2-0 at 7:58 of the second. With the Pioneers forechecking strongly, Dustin Jackson carried the puck through the high slot and passed it to Testwuide at the right point, who one-timed a slap shot high glove side past a screened Olthuis. The puck appeared to hit the Seawolves’ Mat Robinson on the way in.

The Seawolves finally got on the board at 11:39 when Tommy Grant picked up a rebound of a Jared Tuton shot low in the right circle, took a step towards the net, and slid it past Mannino’s right pad into the far corner.

“You measure out the quality scoring chances, they’re even,” said Seawolves’ coach Dave Shyiak. “I thought we had chances, but it’s been our story all year long, not converting or capitalizing. I thought there were plays to be made.”

A late goal by Matt Glasser gave the Pioneers the two-goal lead going into the third. Glasser took a pass from Brian Gifford near the red line and put on a burst of speed to get by a diving Shane Lovdahl at the blue line, looked off for a pass through the slot to Chris Butler, then fired a shot five-hole past Olthuis at 18:12.

“It was a great play by Brian there to get the puck to me,” said Glasser. “I think I lost it at the blue line to tell you the truth. I thought they were going to catch up to me, and then going in, me and Butler, I was thinking pass the whole time until the last second, and just decided to shoot it.”

“That goal tonight was huge,” said Gwozdecky of Glasser’s play. “He looked off the goaltender and defenseman real well. Chris Butler jumped up in the play and activated it and forced that defenseman to back off. Matt made a great shot. At that point, prior to the goal, they definitely had some momentum going in their favor, and to get us that two-goal cushion was huge.”

Olthuis managed to keep the Seawolves within two moments later when he stopped Anthony Maiani on a breakaway.

Both teams had some good chances in the third period, but the goaltenders played strong. Olthuis robbed Brandon Vossberg from point-blank range on back-to-back shots, while Mannino stood tall in the final few minutes and controlled his rebounds, preventing the Seawolves from getting closer.

“I think we can really just be more concerned with our play and improving certain areas that all teams need to do at this time of year, and getting the proper rest,” said Gwozdecky.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the sweep after a tough week.

UND

vizoroo said...

Kudos, dg for getting the results up so fast and Kudos to the TEAM for a much needed sweep

puck swami said...

Thia was a meatgrinder game. DU played hard and smart, and with a better goalie. UAA played hard, but without a lot of offensive talent.

Glasser is the most improved player on the DU team. Great work from the third line as well.

Still not yet out of the woods.

Without Ruegsegger and Trotter, DU is going to need to play solid d to have any chance of advancing.

achsdu17 said...

Good work from the boys in Crimson and Gold tonight. They got the job done and hopefully they have once again found some confidence in their play again.

Next up Michigan Tech... let's keep building on this sweep.

Twister said...

Great weekend for DU. Two much needed victories against a difficult opponent. UAA is not the most skilled team offensively and their goaltending can be iffy, but they are big and physical and play hard.

Glasser had another strong game--great to see him get another goal. He seems to get better every week. Jesse Martin played very well, a very gutty performance. And I think Gifford looked the best I've seen all year. Skated hard, was physical, and had some offensive chances.

A well earned 4 points this weekend.

Nelson said...

Nuttini played a very solid defensive game. I thought it was his best effort all season. Glad to see the boys have success on defense this weekend-they need the confidence boost.

Two goals for the third line was huge. I was bummed to see the one defensive lapse lead to the end of Peter's chance at the S.O. record. He was very solid!

The biggest difference tonight was that we had real physical intensity from everybody for all three periods. I thought Alaska played a tough game throughout.

The PP goal in the first was the very best PP effort all year. They cycled the puck so well and seemed patient with the puck the entire time.

Looking forward to the CC series! I bought a seat on the glass of the DU attack twice zone back at Christmas time for the Saturday game down there.


Skiing comes before hockey for the student body--nobody there tonight.
Looks like either the Gophers or Tech on the weekend of 14th.

Ruggs out for another 3-4 weeks which is a hard pill to take!

Anonymous said...

"Skiing comes before hockey for the student body--nobody there tonight."

And everything else.

No spirit at this school at all.

willy mo said...

Those 4 points were crucial this weekend. Good effort all around. I still think DU could get better on the forecheck and at times they had trouble getting the puck out of their zone, but the two wins are great.

Re: school spirit of lack therof....the crowds at Magness have always been relatively docile. I wouldn't say there is no school spirit, but the student section is not a huge part of the game. DU students have a large choice of activities, whether here in town or in the mountains, and I think that's part of it. I think students go the game more for socializing than for anything else. I think that's true for a portion of the general public as well. A lot of Denverites who come to the games are there to socialize and be entertained. I don't know how many are hardcore Pioneer fanes. Magness is a great facility but not very loud, compared to some other venues I've been to.