In what shaped up to be a game-long thriller, it was not until the last few minutes of regulation that the Denver Pioneers pulled ahead for a 14-9 win over the Duke Blue Devils. Duke battled out the entire game with the Pioneers, keeping the score tied or within two points. Exchanging fast breaks, hard hits and offensive possessions kept the match-up fierce and exciting the whole way through.
Connor Cannizzaro scored his 200th career goal and tallied another hat trick – both contributing to his continued streak of games scored. Ethan Walker also scored three, while Connor Flynn and Colton Jackson each added two points. Trevor Baptiste scored on a face-off fast-break in style, and Danny Logan and Nick Phillips each had a goal.
On the Blue Devil side of the ball, Jack Bruckner, Justin Guttering and John Pendergast each scored two goals with Brad Smith, Kevin Quigley and Sean Lowrie each contributing a goal.
The real excitement came from the tempo and intensity of the entire game. Denver outshot Duke 45 to 29 and recovered nearly twice as many ground balls. All were fought hard for, and the Blue Devils forced three more turnovers than the Pios.
Both teams pressed out on defense forcing the other to hustle for their opportunities. One on one match-ups were set up, and both teams took those moments personally. Tons of wheels and backside feeds were the majority of offensive efforts, and any shooter paid the price ending up on the ground post-shot.
Duke never once had the lead in this contest. They managed to tie the scoreboard up repetitively, but once Denver took the lead to 9-8, the rest became history. Five unassisted goals from the Pioneers and a Cannizzaro assist to Walker made the final score 14-9.
Though both teams controlled their offensive possessions with aggression and tactics, what ultimately decided the outcome was the number of shots. Denver was able to get off 16 more shots while many of Duke’s attempts to set up an opportunity were thwarted by dropped passes, shut off feeds and great goaltending by Alex Ready.
This win for Denver should keep them atop the rankings at No.1 – but UNC beat Lehigh at home and could shake up the polls on Monday. The Pioneers move on 2-0 to host young Cleveland State next Sunday and continue their home-field stretch of games. Duke goes home 2-2 on the season looking for a major victory over Saint Joseph’s. Their next big match-up is against Loyola in three weeks.