HARMAR TWP., Pa. — The first of two City Games this season between the Pittsburgh Panthers (16-1, 6-1 CHMA) and Duquesne Dukes (4-13, 2-7 CHMA) was a tale of three periods.
The first period featured a Pitt team that was eager to get out to another fast start. It also featured a Duquesne squad that matched up well with the Panthers. The Dukes managed to slow down what has become a prolific offense for Pitt, as goaltender Alex Neverve tracked the puck well and kept the scoresheet at zeroes after one period of play, despite Duquesne being outshot 14-7. Panthers head coach Stu Rulnick knew a victory would not come easy for Pitt.
“When you play against Duquesne, it’s just a different game. I don’t care what their record was or who they played prior to this, it’s always different when we play each other,” Rulnick said. It doesn’t matter if it’s football, basketball, or hockey, the result is the same. It’s good competition.”
The Panthers then came out in the second period and got the fast start they were searching for. Just 13 seconds in, Austin Tonkovich took advantage of the slow Duquesne backchecking and put Pitt up 1-0. It was a rough start to the second period for Neverve after a solid first, but one that he knew he had to shake off fast.
“It was a bad bounce, I understand that,” Neverve said after the game. Being the only goalie, I have to make sure that I’m staying as mentally strong as possible so that the boys don’t feed off of me. Getting down on myself, they get down on themselves, so I try to just compose myself, forget about it, and look forward to the next shift.”
Unfortunately for Nevereve and the Dukes, an Oldrich Virag power play goal from a penalty on Duquesne forward Greg Scolieri made it 2-0 3:43 into the second period. Then, Max Milan and Ben Leslie scored with 6:59 and 2:52 remaining, respectively, to move the advantage to 4-0. The Panthers peppered Neverve with 26 shots in the period, and although the damage was done, it could have been worse.
“We were kind of sluggish in the first period and then I thought we turned it on a little bit in the second period and I thought their goalie played fantastic, I really did. Second and third period, we could have easily had seven or eight goals, he was really good,” said Stu Rulnick after the game.
Despite the second period barrage, Neverve stayed strong in net, but no stronger than Pitt goaltender Matt Snader. They each pitched a shutout inning in the third period and Pitt skated off the ice with a 4-0 victory that moved them to 16-1 overall and 6-1 in CHMA conference play. Duquesne drops to 4-13 and 2-7 in conference play.
Duquesne will travel to play Lawrence Tech on Friday, Dec 6 and Saturday, Dec 7 at 8:15 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.
Pitt will host John Carroll on Friday, Dec 6 at 9:20 p.m. at Alpha Ice Complex before they take their winter break.
MAJOR FOCUS: PITT TAKES CITY GAME ON ICE, ROUND 1 OF 2, IN 2019-20 SEASON (FULL GALLERY)