Making its 20th appearance in the NCAA Division I men's ice hockey tournament, seven-time champion Denver earned the No. 1 seed of the 2009 West Regional, but was upset by No. 4 Miami (Ohio) on Friday, 4-2, at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis, Minn.
This was Denver and Miami’s second meeting in tournament history and seventh overall.
No. 4 Miami jumped to a 2-0 lead and never looked back.
Denver was outplayed from the start and finishes the 2008-09 season with a 23-12-5 record.
Joe Colborne and Tyler Bozak scored for Denver and sophomore netminder Marc Cheverie made 25 saves.
“We got off to a slow start and could never recover,” Denver head coach George Gwozdecky said. “We had trouble generating scoring chances and Miami did an excellent job in its coverage. Give Miami credit for a good game plan and the win. I’m proud of our team because we accomplished a lot of our goals, despite battling a lot of adversity and injuries.”
Miami’s, Justin Mercier, wristed a shot from the top of the slot by Cheverie at 7:28 and Alden Hirschfeld scored from the slot at 18:04. Miami outshot Denver, 10-7, and the Pioneers committed four penalties in the period.
Bill Loupee made it 3-0 for the Redhawks at 5:36 of the second period when he netted a rebound past Cheverie.
The Pioneer’s momentum was short-lived when Andy Miele scooped up a loose rebound and scored with 33 seconds left in the second period. Miami out shot Denver, 12-3, in the period.
Gwozdecky pulled Cheverie at 14:20 for an extra attacker and it paid off when Bozak scored on the power play with a 6-on-4 advantage.
Cody Reichard finished the game with 16 saves. Denver went 2-for-5 on the power play, while Miami was 0-for-5.
Denver allowed the first goal in four of its last five games.
Bozak returned to the Denver lineup after missing 21 games with a knee injury in December.
This postseason meeting is also the second between Gwozdecky and Blasi. DU defeated Miami, 3-2, at the NCAA West Regional in Colorado Springs on March 27, 2004.
The Pioneers were 4-2 all-time against the RedHawks in the series that started in 1986-87.
Denver defeated Miami, 3-2, in the lone meeting between the teams in the NCAA Tournament at the West Regional in 2004; Miami defeated Denver, 5-2, in the last meeting on Oct. 6, 2006—the game marked the opening of Steve Cady Arena on the Miami campus.
Britney Milazzo is a Contributor for Bleacher Report.