DENVER - The No. 1 ranked Denver Pioneers were looking for eight straight victories in their matchup on Friday night with the No. 18 St. Cloud State Huskies. It took a few extra minutes, but the Pioneers were able to get it done, defeating the Huskies 4-3 in overtime.
“I thought it was a great game,” Denver head coach Jim Montgomery said after the game. “To me that was a playoff game, an NCAA [tournament] type of game. There were momentum swings and a lot of emotion in it.”
Dylan Gambrell has been red hot during this winning streak. He had two goals tonight and has now scored six goals during the eight-game winning streak.
“Gambrell was unbelievable,” Montgomery said. “He’s been playing great, he’s taken his game to another level.”
It was Henrik Borgström who came in to save the day when he scored the overtime winner with 1:16 left in the frame.
“[Borgström] was pretty frustrated because he had a couple of great opportunities that he usually doesn’t miss on,” Montgomery said. “And the frustration was wearing on him so for that one to squeak through, I think you could tell from that celebration how excited he was.”
If the fans came for defense they would’ve definitely been disappointed, there were four goals in the first period. Troy Terry got the scoring going when he picked up the rebound from Borgström’s shot and put it home. The Huskies answered just two minutes later when LA Kings draft pick Mikey Eyssimont brought the puck around the net and then fired it home to Tanner Jaillet’s short side.
The kid from Littleton, CO, Eyssimont, was back at it again when he brought the puck in on the rush, toe-dragged and dropped it to Jon Lizotte who put St. Cloud up 2-1. DU tied it up when Terry rushed into the zone, fed the puck to Evan Janssen who found Dylan Gambrell in the slot and Gambrell fired it into the top-right corner.
The second period had a different look to it. Both teams still had plenty of scoring chances, but they weren’t getting past the two goaltenders. The Pioneers were able to get one past St. Cloud's Jeff Smith, when Gambrell brought the puck in on a rush, used his speed to get around the defenseman, made the goalie open up and then he slid it through Smith’s wickets to give DU a 3-2 lead.
In the third period, the Pios tried hard to get themselves a cushion but the Huskies weren’t going to go away easy. Both teams battled back and forth trying to get themselves that much needed goal. St. Cloud tied the game up with just under two and a half minutes left in the game when Judd Peterson poked a loose puck into the net to force overtime.
The Pioneers had the puck for the majority of the overtime frame and were doing everything they could to try and end the game. With 1:16 left in overtime, it was the Finnish freshman who fired the puck into the back and gave the Pios their eighth straight win.
“You can outshoot them 37-23,” Montgomery explained. “But that looked like a dead even game because of the way they are able to make play, they’re patient, they counterattack and you have to earn every point you get against them.”
First star: Dylan Gambrell (Denver) Second star: Henrik Borgström (Denver) Third star: Troy Terry (Denver)