DENVER - The fourth longest unbeaten streak in University of Denver hockey history came to an end on Saturday night at the paws of the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. The Pioneers were defeated, for the first time since Oct. 8, 3-1 on Saturday night.
"I really like the way we played the entire weekend," head coach Jim Montgomery said after the game. "This is the NCHC, you can’t afford for your power play to be unsuccessful. I don’t know if it was 0/5 or 0/6, but it was abysmal."
Tonight was a different game for the Pioneers, they weren't winning the same puck battles that they were winning previously and although the shots were there, they weren't getting an incredible amount of quality scoring chances.
"Puck possession wise we had a lot of time but we didn’t get to the dirty areas and they capitalized on their opportunities, that’s what good teams do to you." Montgomery said.
The first period had an eerily similar feeling to the previous night. Both teams had their fair share of scoring opportunities but it was the UMD Bulldogs who were able to capitalize. UMD caught DU on a bad line change which created a two-one-one opportunity and UMD’s Kyle Osterberg was able to get the puck through Tanner Jaillet’s five hole. DU had a couple of power play opportunities but just couldn’t capitalize during the first period.
The Pioneers were able to put UMD on its heels early in the second period but still couldn’t get the puck past UMD’s goalie Hunter Miska. Duluth was able to get a second goal when a broken stick gave the Bulldogs an odd-man rush the other way and Sammy Spurrell was able to find Billy Exell who put it away.
DU was finally able to get the puck past Miska when Logan O’Connor flew down the boards, went around the net and fired one on net where Evan Janssen was waiting to cut UMD’s lead in half.
With Henrik Borgström out of the lineup again tonight, the Pioneers needed their best players, Troy Terry and Dylan Gambrell, to step up. Terry created a few chances but he wasn't the same player as last night. Gambrell had a few wonderful opportunities to utilize his NHL-level wrist shot but none of them were able to get past UMD's goaltender.
"Last night our best players were are best players and we won, and tonight that didn’t happen." Montgomery said.
In the third period the Pioneers had plenty of chances but it was one of those nights where no matter how many chances they had the shots were a few inches wide of the net or they needed to make one more pass. DU finished the game with 39 shots but Miska saved 38 of them. Duluth were able to get an empty netter from New Jersey Devils prospect Joey Anderson with about a minute left in the game to go up 3-1. The Pioneers run of 15 games unbeaten came to an end Saturday night against a very good UMD hockey team.
First star: Hunter Miska (UMD) Second star: Neal Pionk (UMD) Third star: Logan O'Connor (Denver)
Billy Exell's goal halfway through the second period. The Pioneers were coming out of a power play in which they had a multitude of opportunities and they went from tying the game 1-1 to being down 2-0 in an instant.
The Pioneers will have a couple of weeks to rest and spend time with family then will be back in action against Providence on Dec. 30.