Pioneers Take Spartans' Best Shot and Prevail 4-2

Homecoming 2015 started with a bang as Pioneers hockey team took advantage of a defensive breakdown by Michigan State late in the third period as Gabe Levin scored the game winning goal on a great wrist shot from the low slot.

The game started as both games against Air Force did: an early goal from Michigan State. At the 1:03 mark of the first period, JT Stenglein was the beneficiary of a lucky bounce as the puck barely made it past DU goalie Evan Cowley.

Yet again, Denver would have to come from behind. After the initial goal, DU seemed to settle in a bit and began dominating play as many predicted they would, though they didn't break through with a goal until the 10:25 mark of the first period. Emil Romig found the puck low in the slot on the rebound of a great shot by Dylan Gambrell and buried it low right to tie the game at 1.

After that, the Pioneers and the Spartans went over a half hour without a goal. While the effort didn't show on the scoreboard, most spectators could see that the balance of play was heavily in favor of the Pioneers from about the 5 minute mark of the 1st period on through the entire game.

"I bet we had the puck over 70% of the time tonight," Coach Montgomery quipped after the game. "If their goalie isn't great, this could have been a different game."

Throughout the second period, the Pioneers kept the pressure on MSU's goalie, Jake Hildebrand. The Pios managed to get 15 shots on goal in the period and, with the exception of a long, 1:44 5 on 3 Spartan power play, DU didn't give up many scoring chances. The only reason the Pios didn't score in the period was they missed two wide open nets, including one that Will Butcher missed the mouth of the net by less than 4 inches on a gorgeous pass into the slot.

The 2nd 5 on 3 penalty kill was probably one of the turning points of the game. The Spartans hadn't had many quality scoring chances since early in the first period and they were determined to make good on the mistake by the Pioneers. If it weren't for the play of Cowley, they would have taken a second period lead.

When asked about the 5 on 3 penalty kill, Coach Montgomery said, "Cowley was stoic in net. He's been that way for two games now."

The third period started very similarly to the first. At the 3:14 mark, after roughly 2 minutes of great Spartan pressure, Flames prospect Matt DeBlouw broke the tie beat Cowley after a perfectly executed 3-on-2 sequence.

DeBlouw's goal woke the Pioneers up and they didn't give up a single great scoring chance the rest of the way.

Just 5 and a half minutes after Michigan State broke the tie, Matt VanVoorhis tied it right back up with an absolute laser from the high slot, beating Hildebrand high glove side.

Less than four minutes later, Gabe Levin broke the tie with a wicked wrister top left to give the Pios their first lead of the game. As soon as the puck hit the back of the net, Magness Arena erupted with its loudest cheer of the game. 3-2 Pios.

Even after taking the lead, the Pioneers wouldn't let Michigan State regain any momentum. One of the reasons for that was their incredible puck pressure in their defensive zone. Coach Montgomery acknowledged, "I thought our puck pressure in our zone was really good. But we've got to do a better job defending on the rush."

With 4 seconds left, and the game all but won, Logan O'Connor wristed in an empty-net goal to seal the deal and notch his first career collegiate goal.

Game over. Pioneers win, 4-2.


Denver went 0 for 3 on the power play, Michigan State went 0 for 5; Denver outshot the Spartans 36-27; VanVoorhis' goal was his first of the season, as was Levin's; Dylan Gambrell had the lone assist on Emil Romig's second goal of the season; Denver scored 3 of its 4 goals in the 3rd period; Evan Cowley stopped 25 of 27 shots for a .926 SV% while Hildebrand stopped 32 of 35 shots for .914 SV% (O'Connor's EN goal does not count against Hildebrand's statistics); Attendance was 5,475, 95% of Magness Arena's capacity; Denver dominated the face-off circle winning 26 of 44 face-offs.

What's Next

October 17
Denver (2-1-0) vs Michigan St (1-1-1)
Magness Arena
7:06 PM


Anonymous said...

Student section was loud tonight. Really fun game.

Anonymous said...

Alot of green in Magness Arena tonight. Still....sorry Sparty - you're no North Dakota. There's a reason you haven't been here since 1980. You go.....Go back to the B1G and tell them what you have seen here tonight. Tell them about the NCHC. Tell them about the 7 time NCAA Champions. Tell them about the Lacrosse Team. Tell them about the Light Rail... and the blue sky, and the warm weather. Tell them about that big bright, hot light you saw in the sky today. That's called the sun; something you don't see very often in Michigan. And you tell Bucky we're coming to see him. #sweep

Anonymous said...

Tonight was special. Big 10 team in the house. Students and band were bringing it. Third period was just amazing as DU broke it open with two highlight reel goals that brought the arena to its feet. This was one of those nights at Magness where you just felt the pride and tradition of DU hockey...

Anonymous said...

Excellent effort by the pios. Is it too early to start talking about O'Connor? Seems to have a good presence out there. Disappointed with the tribute to the lacrosse team. Couldn't hear the PA system, a random entry onto the ice by the team, the obligatory throwing of t shirts into the crowd, the banner already hanging pre game. A rather low class tribute to a high class accomplishment. DU lax deserved a more professional tribute.

Otherwise, a fun night at Magness. Sweep the Spartans tomorrow night, please.

Nick Tremaroli said...

Look for a more dedicated tribute come spring. A few sources have told me that they're probably planning something big for the first home lax game. As soon as we have more information, you'll know.

Anonymous said...

The best coverage anywhere and great job Nick. The place had the old vibe again and loved the relentless Monty swarming style. The student section and band were the best. What an incredible night.

Anonymous said...

DU goalie Evan Cowley called last night the best student section he had seen in his time at DU (he's a junior). Great to see the students leading the way.

Anonymous said...

Did the Denver Post have a story on last night's DU game? Please post the link if you can find it....

Puck Swami said...

After coach Gwoz was fired, there seemed to be a bit of a fan malaise around the program, even though the boys have played just as well (if not better) under coach Montgomery. The hardcore fans never really changed, but there was an understandable casual fan drop off.

After last night, I think we're seeing the new DU era coming into focus. Monty is stamping the program with his own Identity, and the DU fans are starting to emotionally invest in Pioneer hockey again. This year, three-fourths of the DU undergrad students have known only Monty as coach, and the roster is also taking on a Monty flavor. Gone are the 1st and 2nd round draft picks, and now we see players who hustle on every shift - "puck pressure" and "200 foot hockey players" are becoming the identity of DU Hockey now, and you can see how this relentless approach also wears down opponents.

Great to see the DU students coming out to the game in droves and bringing the passion to Magness again. There were many loud moments last night where the arena felt big time, and the players clearly responded to it. Bravo.

Nick Tremaroli said...

The Post was not at the game last night.

We're also shifting away from posting links to other recaps and becoming a standalone source of news. We're certainly not competing with the Post, but it's just not part of our plan. That's not to say we won't post links when we feel it would be productive and interesting, it just isn't part of our new plan and direction.

Nincompoop said...

I was not happy with the 2nd period effort by Denver. But, thier wake up in the 3rd WAS impressive. Somebody said something in the locker room, I bet. I hate these slow starts though.