The Big Red keep on bringing the heat every time they step on the ice.
Denison hockey put their 4-0 (4-0 ACHA) record on the line this past weekend with a set of non-conference games against the Case Western Reserve University Spartans.
The first leg of the two-game set with the Spartans came at home for the Big Red on Friday night at Lou & Gib Ice Arena in Newark.
Captain Ben Cousineau ‘19 speaks to the confidence the team has gained this year from a hot start.
“This year we’re playing a new system but the team has really bought into it and if we play it right we can match up with any team in the league. After winning our first two games pretty easily we’ve been able to go into each of our next games with confidence in ourselves and in the system,” said Cousineau ‘19.
After surrendering two first period goals Friday night, the Big Red found themselves in a hole early on against a talented Spartans team. Despite entering the weekend winners of their first four games, it was not the first time the team would have to come back from behind.
A late 2nd period goal for the Big Red from Kasey Saradzhyan ‘22 (assisted by Bailey Hayden ‘20) cut their deficit in half and brought the score to 1-2.
When asked about the impact this year’s class of incoming freshmen has made on the team, Cousineau ‘19 adds, “The new guys have been bringing a mindset where they’re eager to contribute and help in any way they can. They also allow us to run three full lines which gives our other guys more time to recover.”
Just over one minute later, the Big Red put another one by the Spartans goalkeeper, this time on a power play. Hayden ‘20 was on the finishing end of a pass from Nick Wert ‘21 to even the game at 2-2.
In a hotly contested third period, the Spartans were able to strike first and pull ahead with 12:20 remaining in the game. The go-ahead goal gave the Spartans the lead back in a game where they had been on top nearly all game.
As they had done not only all game, but all season, the Big Red refused to go away. Less than three minutes later, Sean Hickey ‘21 evened the game once more to bring the score to 3-3 with 9:47 remaining.
Despite firing 11 shots in the third period, the Big Red were unable to find the net for a fourth time to pull ahead in the final minutes.
Goalie, Gavin Thomas ‘20 held his own for Denison and stopped seven third period shots from the Spartans to keep the score level at 3-3.
When the sirens sounded after 60 minutes, the scoreboard still read 3-3 in what was truly an even matchup between the two teams. Due to ACHA rules, the ensuing overtime in a game tied after three regulation periods does not count, and so the game officially ended in a 3-3 tie. Although the Big Red were disappointed to come up short of a win on their home ice, a tie against this Spartans team is certainly nothing to scoff at.
Denison was able to rebound the following night when they were on the road against the Spartans in Cleveland. The outcome was more in favor of the Big Red when the two teams squared off for a second time, and the team came away with an impressive 4-2 road victory.
The Big Red scoring on Saturday came from Steven Verstandig ‘20 with two goals, along with Saradzhyan ‘22 and Wert ‘21 who each added one of their own.
The team is in action again this weekend with a pair of games against the Bobcats of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Friday night’s contest will be at home at Lou & Gib Ice Arena at 9:30 p.m. before the team hits the road for Saturday night’s game in Delmont, Pennsylvania.