In the 305th meeting between rivals Denver Pioneers and Colorado College Tigers, the teams focused on scoring rather than making physical statements. The Pioneers got on the board first as Adam Plant scored just 1:17 into the game with a one-timer off a blueline pass from captain Will Butcher. The teams settled into a rhythm after that, testing out match ups, with neither team putting much pressure on the opposing goaltender. With just over two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first period, Westin Michaud forced Pioneers goaltender Tanner Jaillet to make a stop as Michaud and his linemates crashed the net, giving the Tigers their best scoring chance of the period. At the end of the first, Denver led Colorado College one goal to none and eight shots to four.

The second period began much like the first as, once again, the Pioneers put on the offensive pressure less than two minutes after initial puck drop. Bodies from both teams swarmed the crease, but Tigers goaltender Alex Leclerc made the save, sprawling on the ice to shovel the puck underneath him and preserving the one-goal deficit for Colorado College. At the 5:06 mark, the Pioneers had the first power play of the night with Nick Halloran going to the box for tripping. Butcher passed the puck in the corner to Henrik Borgstrom, who slid it through the slot to a waiting Jarid Lukosevicius. The sophomore went high on the blocker side of Leclerc to make it 2-0 for Denver.

Just forty seconds later, Denver went on the power play again with Kristian Blumenschei called for tripping. While the Tigers successfully killed the penalty, the minutes spent short-handed really showed as the Pioneers held a 17-5 shot advantage at the midpoint of the period. The constant pressure put Colorado College on their heels, and Teemu Kivihalme succumbed to frustration with a cross-checking penalty, putting Denver back on the power play for the third time in the period.

Despite a near-constant presence in the Tigers’ zone, Denver was unable to convert on the man-advantage. In the final seconds of the penalty, Colorado College cleared the puck all the way to Jaillet where Colorado College’s Mason Bergh and Denver’s Matt Marcinew got into a scuffle at the top of the crease. As a result, both players received two minutes for roughing. Marcinew received an extra two minutes, however, giving the Tigers their first power play of the game. Denver killed the penalty, facing few shots.

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Colorado College cut the Pioneers’ lead in half with a goal from the left circle. Blumenschei started his move up the ice from behind his own net, crossed center ice and into the Pioneers’ zone. Just inside the blue line, he saucered a pass to Matt Hansen who rocketed a one-timer from his knee, slipping the puck past Jaillet.  The clock ticked away, and the teams went into the locker rooms with a 2-1 score favoring the Pioneers.

The third period was a quiet affair with neither team hitting twine. The Tigers’ coach pulled Leclerc with a minute left in the game, but it was to no avail. Denver took the win and heads into the back end of the home-and-home series in Colorado Springs with 3-0 season lead.

Cheryl Bradley

Prior to joining BSN, Cheryl was the managing editor for Mile High Hockey. She began writing about hockey in 2009, contributing to both MHH and her own blog, Avalanche Breakaway. Her articles include editorials, breaking news coverage, game and player analysis, and player bios. She covers the NHL and its affiliated leagues, as well as world competitions and feeder leagues.