Erika Sobelman | Clarion

In a rematch of last year’s NCAA Hockey championship game between the second ranked Denver Pioneers and tenth ranked Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs the Pioneers came into the game off a pair of ties against North Dakota the previous week. On Friday night’s game, both defenses were in championship form through the first couple of periods as the game remained scoreless. Each team saw a pair of power play opportunities only to see strong penalty kills from both teams despite Duluth’s seventh ranked power play.

Denver became more aggressive on the attack in the second period outshooting Duluth 18-7 only to continue to see the game scoreless. At 2:35 into the third period, sophomore forward Henrik Borgstrom (Helsinki, Finland) finally broke through on an unexpected shot from the side of the goal that ricocheted off the mask of  Minnesota Duluth’s goaltender Hunter Shepard to find its way behind the net for the game’s only goal. Duluth looked threatening late in the game as Denver struggled to defend but managed to hold off Duluth 1-0 on Friday night.

“We got the 1-0 lead, they started to push and I thought we started to panic a little bit and that’s an opportunity for us to grow,.” said Head Coach Jim Montgomery after Friday night’s victory.

On Saturday night the Pioneers got a 1-0 lead on a shorthanded breakaway goal by junior forward Logan O’Connor (Calgary, Alberta). That goal however was followed by two Minnesota Duluth goals to put the Bulldogs in front.

The Pioneers then tied it up five minutes into the second period on a perfect pass from freshman Jake Durflinger (Walnut Creek, California) leading to a centered slap shot goal by freshman Ryan Barrow (Banff, Alta).

However, Minnesota Duluth’s tall forward Riley Tufte found an opening moments later to put the Bulldogs back out in front.

The Pioneers did not let up however, as red hot junior Jarid Lukoseviscius (Squamish, B.C.) backhanded the puck in the net to tie the game up going into the third. Halfway through the third, senior defenseman Adam Plant (Penticton, B.C.) took a shot that ricocheted off Shepard but was recovered and poked in by junior  Dylan Gambrell ( Bonney Lake, Washington). Denver’s defense recovered from a rough second period to hold on and win  the game 4-3 outshooting Minnesota Duluth 44-35. “Once we got that goal to go ahead I thought we were a lot better then we were last night as far as playing with a lead, ” said a satisfied Jim Montgomery after Saturday’s victory.

The Pioneers will have a second bye week next week prior to rivalry weekend against Colorado College but will be without two star players as Troy Terry will be playing for team USA and Henrik Borgstrom for team Finland in the winter Olympics which start Feb. 9.