DENVER – Very few people in Magness Arena knew who Nick Kossoff was before the game between the Denver Pioneers and Lake Superior State Lakers started. But most, if not all, know who he is now.
The Pioneers had 70 shots on net in this matchup (66 officially as double overtime stats are not counted) and they needed double overtime to defeat Kossoff and the Lakers. 70 shots is something you rarely see in a hockey game, making that the first time Kossoff has ever had 60+ saves (66 in reality but 63 officially).
“I think that was the first time that I had to make that many saves,” Kossoff said. “So it was a career-high for me there.”
It was a performance that will most likely never happen again for the junior netminder. Which begs the question, did LSSU head coach Damon Whitten know that Kossoff had that kind of performance in him?
“Yeah, as a freshman a few years ago, he had three or four shutouts on the year,” Whitten explained. “So yeah he certainly has that type of capability and he got in there and did a great job. So it’s huge for him to get some confidence and put a real good game together.”
The Pioneers knew that they were going to have a target on their back for the entire season and Kossoff admitted that playing the No. 1 team in the nation provides a little bit of extra motivation.
“Yeah for the whole team there was a little extra bite in our game there,” Kossoff said. “To come in and prove that we can compete with the No. 1 team is huge for us so it proved a lot about our team.”
Kossoff played two seasons with the Colorado Thunderbirds, so he’s familiar with the area and also had some familiarity in the stands. He had his billet family, a couple of his old buddies and even his real family in the building on Friday.
“Certainly, playing in front of my family,” Kossoff said when asked if having some familiarity in the building gave him an extra boost. “I don’t get to see them a whole lot. So getting to show my family what I’m made of out there was good for me.”
Kossoff knew going into the game that he was facing a very good team and just had to focus on one shot at a time.
“I think just keeping it simple,” Kossoff said. “Focusing on one shot at a time and just keeping it simple for myself and not looking too far in advance. So that was the key for me.”
Although they lost in double overtime, it goes down officially as a tie and the Lakers wouldn’t have been anywhere close to overtime had it not been for Kossoff. Keep that performance in your memory bank, folks, because that was one for the ages.