The No. 2-ranked Pioneers (20-6-4, 12-3-3) dominated the Colorado College (CC) Tigers (7-19-2, 3-13-2) in the annual Gold Pan series, sweeping the Tigers 2-1 on Friday, Feb. 10 and 5-1 on Saturday Feb. 11 of the home-and-home series.
Saturday’s victory extended DU’s 20-win regular season to 16, the longest active in the NCAA, and clinched home-ice advantage of Round One of the NCHC Playoffs having advanced past Minnesota-Duluth in conference standings.
“We feel good about being in the NCHC; we’ve never been in this situation,” said Head Coach Jim Montgomery. “Six games left and it’s us and [Minnesota] Duluth going head-to-head here seeing who can prevail. It’s exciting because every time you have an opportunity to win a championship, it helps you prepare for the ultimate championship at the end.”
World Juniors star and Anaheim Ducks prospect sophomore Troy Terry (Denver) returned to the lineup after sustaining an upper body injury against Western Michigan on Jan.13 and missing five games. Freshman leading goal-scorer and Florida Panthers prospect Henrik Borgstrom (Helsinki, Finland) started both games, despite being ill all week and missing practice.
Friday’s game at Magness Arena was sold-out as the Pioneers edged out the Tigers 2-1. Denver’s first shot of the night resulted in a goal, as junior defenseman Adam Plant (Penticton, British Columbia) buried a slap-shot from the point 1:17 in the game. Sophomore forward Jarid Lukosevicius (Squamish, British Columbia) doubled DU’s lead on the powerplay, striking 5:34 into the second period.
CC denied Pioneer goaltender Tanner Jaillet (Red Deer, Alberta) the cleansheet, scoring with 2:46 remaining in the second period. Denver outshot CC 39-15, with phenomenal efforts admitted by Tiger freshman netminder Alex Leclerc.
Travelling to the Tigers’ World Arena on Saturday, DU secured their 12th-consecutive win over CC as three freshman, one senior and one sophomore scored in the Pioneers’ 5-1 victory.
Freshmen Michael Davies (St. Louis, Missouri) and Tyson McLellan (San Jose, California) gave Denver a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission, with Davies’ score coming on the powerplay. Classmate Liam Finlay (Kelowna, British Columbia) had a hand in each of the conversions, increasing his point total to 10 (3G – 7A).
“Everyone has gained a little more experience and played prominent minutes,” Montgomery said. “I think you see that now. We’re getting a guy like [Liam] Finlay who wasn’t getting the minutes before the Terry injury and now he’s getting them; it’s just carrying over.”
Senior assistant captain Evan Janssen (Green Bay, Wisconsin) buried his seventh of the season off of a backhanded pass from San Jose Sharks prospect sophomore Dylan Gambrell (Bonney Lake, Washington) 6:14 into the second period.
CC got on the board during one of their six powerplay opportunities of the evening.
With 46 seconds remaining in the middle frame, Borgstrom picked up a CC turnover inside Denver’s own blueline and glided for a breakaway. He converted his 15th goal of the season to extend Denver’s lead 4-1.
Denver held CC to single-digit shots in the first two periods, outshooting the Tigers 17-8 and 10-4, respectively, but CC gained momentum in the third, breaking double digits 11-16.
Pioneer and Colorado Springs native sophomore Colin Staub finished off the night by scoring with 1:32 remaining in regulation, finalizing the Pioneers’ 5-1 victory.
Denver travels next to Goggin Ice Arena for a conference series against the University of Miami-Ohio on Friday, Feb. 17 and 18.