Sunday Recap: Connell, Stathakis Lead Denver in Upset of Ohio State

(Photo Courtesy of Ohio State Athletics)

The Denver Pioneers went into the Horseshoe and took down the No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes, 14-12, for their biggest win of the season and to snap their two-game losing streak. Additionally, it marked the first win in Columbus for the Pioneers since 2013 when the two teams were members of the ECAC.

Bill Tierney’s squad now moves to 4-4 on the season with a game against Towson up next before Big East play begins a week later with a matchup against Georgetown.

Richie Connell, a junior mid-year transfer from Richmond, came into the game with just three goals on the season and hadn’t found the back of the net in two weeks. But on Sunday he came to play, leading the way for the Pioneers with four goals. Jack Hannah had three goals and one assist.

Connell got his first two back-to-back late in the second quarter, capping off a three-goal Denver run to knot things all up at 6 before Reid Jackson put the Buckeyes back up by one, 7-6, at the intermission. His other two came in the third quarter, where the Pioneers outscored the Buckeyes 7-4 to jump ahead 13-11 heading into the fourth and final frame.

With Justin Inacio winning five of six faceoffs in the first quarter, the Buckeyes were able to spring out to a 4-1 lead late in the frame before Denver cut the lead to two with 37 remaining in the quarter. And after killing off a penalty to open the second, it didn’t take long for the Buckeyes to expand their lead to 6-2 with Reid Jackson and Colby Smith scoring eight seconds apart.

The last lead the Buckeyes would see was that 7-6 halftime score as Denver settled in and started to cook. Much of that can be attributed to the success of Alec Stathakis. After a slow start he would go on to win 13-of-21 in the final three quarters and ended the day with an overall 51% success rate (14-for-27). He also scored once as well, which ended the Pioners’ three-goal run in the third quarter.

Due to the success of Shathakis at the faceoff dot, the Pioneers weren’t only able to win the possession battle at the faceoff dot but also found a way to produce on those possessions. Settling in, Denver looked as well-oiled as they have all season on offense as they moved the ball very well and proved to be able to consistently get good looks on cage. Only four of the Pioneers’ goals came unassisted.

Jack Thompson made 11 saves to anchor the Pioneers defense. Denver caused eight of the Buckeyes’ 12 turnovers and also won the ground ball battle 24-19.

Ohio State’s Jack Myers was held to just one goal and one assist on the day. Jackson Reid (3G/1A) and Colby Smith (3G) stepped up in the situation. Caton Johnson made eight saves.

The Buckeyes move to host Dartmouth on Tuesday.

North Carolina Tops High Point

Chris Gray is now tied with Connor Fields for fourth all-time in career points with 364. The fifth-year attackman put up four goals in the win to move up in the record books and help lead the Tar Heels to victory over in-state foe High Point.

On the other end, Asher Nolting was held to just two points (1G/1A), but still saw his name move up the charts as he passed Mikey Powell for 14th all-time in career points with 308.

It what was a very back and forth contest, for the most part, things were all knotted at 6 at the half. But in the third, North Carolina went on the biggest run of the game. After getting back down by one, 9-8, the Tar Heels rattled off six straight goals, the final two of which came from Gray, to pull out to the biggest lead of the game, 14-9, with 6:22 remaining.

Brayden Mayea scored the final three goals of the contest, but it wouldn’t be enough to complete the comeback. Mayea (3G/1A) and Hunter Vines (3G/1A) led the way for the Panthers. Parker Green made 12 saves in cage.

Outside of Gray’s four-goal performance, the Tar Heels were led by Nicky Solomon’s three assists. Zac Tucci went 12-for-21 (57%) at the faceoff dot. Collin Krieg made 15 saves in cage.

The North Carolina ride flexed it’s muscle, holding the Panthers to 15-of-19 in the clearing game.

Other Scores

  • Richmond used a 6-1 run in the second half to get past UMBC 14-9
  • Christian Watts had four goals to lead Siena past Canisius 9-8

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