CHICAGO - The No. 1 ranked Denver Pioneers had the most important game of the season on Thursday night and they played like it. The Pios dominated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for a full 60 minutes to win 6-1 and secure a trip to the National Championship for the 11th time in program history.
"I don't know what to say," head coach Jim Montgomery remarked after the game. "I'm amazed at the effort our team produced in a big time moment."
The fourth line combination of Evan Ritt, Colin Staub and Emil Romig was really impressive, scoring two goals and combining four points.
There’s only one way to describe the first period: pure domination. Right from the drop of the puck, DU was on it, registering a shot in the first ten seconds while it took Notre Dame seven minutes to get a shot on goal.
The Pioneers got the scoring when Emil Romig fired a shot from a tight angle over Cal Petersen’s shoulder. The Pios were able to make it a two-goal lead when Will Butcher slid the puck over to Henrik Borgstrom where all the Artist had to do was tap it in. The shot tally after the end of the first period finished 13-3.
The second period had a little bit of a different look to it, even though it didn’t show up on the scoresheet. Notre Dame was no longer allowing DU to control the pace, the Irish started throwing their body around and that lead to some consistent zone time.
It took 14 minutes but the Pioneers made it a three-goal lead when Evan Janssen found Tariq Hammond at the back door and Hammond was able to slot it home. They made it 4-0 with a wraparound by Dylan Gambrell. Then, less than two minutes later, Evan Ritt scored his second goal of his career with an absolute snipe.
The third period was slow, it was pretty obvious that DU just wanted to get to the end of the game without any injuries. The Fighting Irish were able to get on the board during a power play, it was Cam Morrison, the Avalanche prospect, who redirected a shot upstairs where Tanner Jaillet couldn’t get to it. Gambrell made it 6-1 with a shot/pass that Petersen lost in his pads, that kind of night for the Irish.
First star: Tariq Hammond (Denver) Second star: Dylan Gambrell (Denver) Third star: Colin Staub (Denver)