The No. 1 ranked Denver Pioneers fell to the North Dakota Fighting Hawks on Friday night in Minneapolis 1-0.
“I thought it was a really good college hockey game,” head coach Jim Montgomery said after the game. “They made one more play than we did. It was really tight checking, there wasn’t a lot of ice out there and it was good for us to see that, we hadn’t seen it in awhile and North Dakota was great at it tonight. I thought they played with more desperation and deserved it.”
The game was in the NCHC conference semi-final so the Pioneers will now face Western Michigan in the third place game. The game had no bearings on the NCAA tournament as the Pios have already locked up a No. 1 seed.
It was the typical North Dakota vs. DU type of game. It was fast-pace back and forth and contained lots of good hockey. Both teams obviously knew the importance of game and weren’t giving up much ice to the other team.
“I thought both teams were excellent defensively,” Montgomery said. “The shots were what 23 to 21 and scoring chances were probably in the single digits for both teams.”
The lone goal came from Austin Poganski and was assisted by Colorado Avalanche prospect Tyson Jost and Colton Poolman. Tanner Jaillet kept the Pios in it for most of the game, he finished with 23 saves on 24 shots.
“I thought Tanner Jaillet was outstanding,” Montgomery said. “I thought he was our best player.”
The Pioneers looked at the bright side after the game. They still have the third place game and the NCAA tournament to look forward to and this game taught them a lot about what’s to come.
“The only silver lining to this, the only benefit, is that were going to practice with more pace, get to more walls and have better puck support.” Montgomery explained.
“I think it’s going to give us motivation,” team captain Will Butcher said after the game. “Like Monty said our offense wasn’t there tonight, I think our power play was 0-for-3 or 0-for-4 or whatever it was. So I think our offense and especially our power play is going to have a little more attitude coming into tomorrow and then into the NCAA tournament.”
First star: Cam Johnson (North Dakota)
Second star: Austin Poganski (North Dakota)
Third star: Tanner Jaillet (Denver)
BY THE NUMBERS:
TURNING POINT OF THE GAME:
Poganski’s goal in the third period to put the Fighting Hawks up 1-0.
The Pioneers will take on the Western Michigan Broncos on Saturday in the third place game.