For a game that midway through looked like it wouldn't be much of a hockey game, it turned into a pretty entertaining affair with Sam Brittain needing to make a nice save off an Eriah Hayes shot with 6 seconds left to preserve a 4-3 win for the Denver Pioneers.
It was almost a tale of two games, with Denver dominating the first half and building a 3-0 lead, and Minnesota State spending the second half of the game trying to claw their way back and coming up just short. Denver was outshot 13-1 in the final period, but their one shot on goal was a snipe by Daniel Doremus that ended up being the game-winner.
Penalties were once again an issue for Minnesota State. The Mavericks took three penalties in the game's first nine minutes, putting the team on their heals. Minnesota State head coach Mike Hastings said he felt the turning point in the game for his team was once they started staying out of the box and playing five-on-five. For me, the turning point came about 12 minutes into the second period when Chase grant took an iffy hooking penalty, and frustrations boiled over into a small scrum near the benches. From that point forward, Minnesota State seemed to play a more aggressive, physical style of play that seemed to rattle the Pioneers.
To the Pioneers credit, they were able to use their skill advantage to score a couple pretty goals, including a laser of a shot by Joey LaLeggia from the top of the circles to give Denver a 2-0 lead, and when they had to hold on, they were able to thanks to a couple really nice saves from Sam Brittain down the stretch. It wasn't the prettiest, most complete effort the Pioneers will have all year, but they were able to find a way to come away with two points, on the road, on a night that they very easily could have had none. They didn't play like a great team, but they were a team that found a way to win with less than their best, which is something great teams do.