DENVER — In a wild back-and-forth game, the outcome of which was in doubt till the last seconds, the No. 2 Denver Pioneers edged Wisconsin, 6-5, in a renewal of an old WCHA rivalry. Three Pioneers, Dylan Gambrell, Troy Terry, and Henrik Borgström notched three points, and both teams fired more than 40 shots on net.
“Exciting game I thought for fans, not for coaches,” said Denver coach Jim Montgomery. “I really liked our offensive side. I saw growth from us both last night and tonight, five-on-five and our power play. You’ve got to give Wisconsin credit. I always say teams are a reflection of their coach. Having played with Tony Granato, I know he never gives up and he never stops coming at you, and they kept coming at us.”
Denver carried much of the early play, amassing a 17-6 shot advantage by 12 minutes of the first period, but it was Wisconsin that struck first on an own goal. Seamus Malone sent the puck toward the net from the blue line toward a streaking Max Zimmer, who was guarded by defenseman Michael Davies. Davies intercepted the pass, but redirected it into his own net behind goaltender Tanner Jaillet at 12:04.
Wisconsin returned the own goal later in the period. Matt Marcinew got the puck low to Wisconsin goalie Jack Berry’s left and sent a pass through the crease, but Grant Besse put his stick out and redirected it through Berry’s legs.
“I don’t think we were as sharp as we were last night,” said Wisconsin coach Tony Granato. “Early in the game defensively, we weren’t quite as aggressive as we were last night. We gave their team, which is extremely talented, a little more time and space and that is enough for them to make plays.”
Denver then took a lead late in the period when Will Butcher sent a wrist shot on net from the left point that got by a screened Berry at 18:33.
Wisconsin started the second period on a power play, and took just 16 seconds to tie it when Besse sent a pass to Luke Kunin streaking down the middle of the slot and Kunin fired a snap shot five-hold past Jaillet.
That was as close as Wisconsin got. The Badgers had two power-play opportunities after tying the game, but couldn’t score on Jaillet. The second Denver penalty was negated after a minute when Wisconsin got called for a penalty, and then with nine seconds left on the Denver power-play, Wisconsin’s Corbin McGuire was called for tripping, giving Denver nine seconds of five-on-three.
Denver capitalized just after the first Wisconsin penalty ended, but before Wisconsin’s Jake Linhart could get back into the defensive zone after leaving the box. Dylan Gambrell sent a pass to Borgström in the right circle, and Borgström fired the puck in off Berry’s pads at 7:35.
After scoring, Borgström skated toward the glass tugging on his jersey at the Denver logo.
“I just wanted to show everybody I love to be here,” said Borgström. “It was my way to show it.”
Just 32 seconds later, while the PA announcer was still announcing the goal, Davies got his first collegiate goal and redemption for his own goal when he got the puck along the right side boards near the hashmarks and rifled a snap shot top corner glove side at 8:07.
“He’s a great young man,” said Montgomery. “Michael Davies is really tough mentally, and he can overcome anything. I don’t think it even phased him that that puck went in and then he got rewarded with that goal.”
Borgström made it 5-2 at 17:48 with a shot through traffic from the top of the slot that beat Berry top corner stick side.
“That second goal is special; he’s got a different type of release that goalies can’t read,” said Montgomery. “If he’s even shooting, it looks like he’s passing the whole time and all of a sudden it’s by their ear. He’s special with the puck.”
Wisconsin got one back in the third period at 3:34 off a bad-angle shot by Zimmer from Jaillet’s left near the goal line that somehow beat Jaillet far side. The goal was reviewed by the officials, but stood.
Penalties cost Wisconsin again before the Badgers could rally, as they put Denver on a five-on-three for nearly minute. Denver didn’t take long to make it a three-goal game, as Borgström got the puck low to Berry’s left and sent a pass through the crease to Terry, stationed near the goal line. Before Berry could slide back across his crease, Terry one-timed it in low at 5:29.
“That five-on-three goal was huge, but we didn’t stop,” Granato stated. “We came back at them and probably had four or five more pucks that were real close to going in. We just couldn’t get another bounce around the net.”
With Denver seemingly in command, the Pioneers made a critical mistake that let Wisconsin back in the game when Evan Ritt was called for five minutes for checking-from-behind. Wisconsin made Denver pay, getting two goals and almost tying the game several times on mad scrambles in front of the Pioneers’ goal.
First, Besse got the puck to Jaillet’s right and beat him low glove side with a snap shot at 9:55.
“The guys are smart enough to see what’s available, what their options are,” said Granato. “That’s a great play to make because when the goalie has to push from post to post on the play, it’s really hard on him. I thought our movement on that five-minute power play was really good.”
With four minutes left of power play, Wisconsin worked the puck deep in Denver’s zone, tiring out Denver’s penalty killers and eventually getting them running around in their end. The puck then came to Malone in the left circle off a cross-ice feed from Will Johnson, and Malone one-timed it into the open net before Jaillet could slide over. The goal came at 12:24.
“They did a couple things we hadn’t seen before,” said Montgomery. “I think our players instead of being on our toes were on our heels, and it gave them a lot of good looks. Give them credit; they’re very good at moving the puck around.”
Wisconsin still had 1:37 of power-play time. Montgomery pulled Jaillet at that point, replacing him with Evan Cowley, who was immediately tested with several strong Wisconsin chances. However, Denver didn’t break, setting up the game for a wild finish.
“I love the way we came back,” said Granato. “I love the way kept at it. I think it was a good weekend for us because we learned from what just happened. There are some areas we need to get better at to be a top team, but I don’t think we are that far away from being in a position to beat these top teams.”
Atlantic Hockey roundup
American International 3, Niagara 1
Blake Christensen had three assists, one in each period, as American International defeated Niagara, 3-1. Alex Murray made 13 saves in the win.
Bowling Green 3, Alaska-Anchorage 0
Tyler Spezia had a goal and an assist and Mitchell McLain had two assists as Bowling Green blanked Alaska. Ryan Bednard made 11 saves in the win.
Michigan Tech 2, at Alaska 1
Brent Baltus and Shan Hanna each scored and Angus Redmond made 26 saves as Michigan Tech swept Alaska.
Michigan State 2, at No. 5 North Dakota 2
Patrick Khodorenko scored at 5:41 the second period to tie the game for the visiting Spartans and Ed Minney made 32 saves, including 11 in the third period, as Michigan State tied North Dakota, which went winless on the weekend for the fourth time in the last five weeks. The Spartans took a 1-0 lead at 7:36 of the first on a short-handed goal when Joe Cox beat Shane Gersich to a loose puck and raced up the left-side of the ice, backhanding a puck on Cam Johnson, who made the save. However, the rebound came to Cox, and he dangled around two North Dakota players to feed Thomas Ebbing coming down the slot, who one-timed it past Johnson. North Dakota answered just 39 seconds later when Zach Yon got the puck just inside the blue line coming down the middle and beat Minney glove side. North Dakota took a lead on Tucker Poolman’s power-play goal at 12:25 on a bullet from the right point. Khodorenko’s tying tally came right after Johnson had stopped Taro Hirose on a breakaway, but the rebound popped out to Khodorenko and he put it into the open net. Just before Khodorenko’s goal, Minney had stoned Mike Gornall’s breakaway attempt. Michigan State won a three-on-three overtime period that doesn’t count for NCAA purposes when Jerad Rosburg scored his third of the series, racing down the right side from his zone, cutting around Rhett Gardner and beating Johnson five-hole just seven seconds into the second OT.
No. 9 Harvard 5, Bentley 2
Alexander Kerfoot had four assists and Ryan Donato had a goal and two assists as the Crimson breezed past Bentley, 5-2. Merrick Madsen made 32 saves in the win.
Princeton 3, at No. 10 Bemidji State 1
David Hallisey scored two goals and Ben Halford made 43 saves as Princeton earned a road sweep of No. 10 Bemidji State. Jesse Wilkins made 20 saves in the loss.
Michigan 4, Lake Superior 1
Zach Nagelvoort made 22 saves and James Sanchez had a goal and assist as the Wolverines rebounded from Friday’s loss to split the weekend series.
Omaha 2, at Northern Michigan 0
Evan Weninger made 31 saves in a shutout victory and Jake Randolph had a goal and an assist as Omaha won the weekend series with Northern Michigan after the two teams tied on Friday night. Omaha has yet to lose on the road this season.
Providence 3, Colgate 2
Anthony Florentino had a hand in all of the Friars’ goals, scoring once and adding two assists, while Hayden Hawkey made 20 saves and Providence held off Colgate, 3-2. Both of Colgate’s goals came on the power play.
Air Force 6, at Colorado College 3
Air Force struck three times in the last six minutes of the first period after tailing 1-0 en route to a 6-3 win over cross-town rival Colorado College. Matt Koch scored Air Force’s first goal while the Falcons were short-handed when his clear from his own zone faceoff circle somehow eluded CC goalie Alex Leclerc, bouncing off the ice right in front of Leclerc and in. In the third period, CC rallied from a 4-1 deficit to 4-3 on a power-play goal by Westin Michaud at 11:43, but just 12 seconds later, right off the draw, Evan Giesler, whose second-period goal proved to be the game-winner, scored his second of the game when he picked the puck up deep in the corner and skated back up the boards and turned toward the middle of the ice and ripped a shot top corner past CC goalie Derek Shatzer, who came on in the second period. The goal was reviewed for a high stick, but it was ruled good. Air Force added an empty-net tally from Jordan Himley, his second of the game, to seal the win.
Maine 5, Brown 1
Cédric Lecroix scored twice, including the game-winner, and Cam Brown and Blaine Byron each had a goal and an assist as Maine routed Brown, 5-1. Rob McGovern made 28 saves in the win.
Robert Morris 3, Dartmouth 0
Daniel Leavens had a goal and an assist and Andrew Pikul made 33 saves in a shutout win over Dartmouth. Goalie Devin Buffalo made 31 saves on 33 shots in a losing effort, as the Colonials’ final tally was an empty-netter.
Sacred Heart 4, at Connecticut 2
Jordan Minello’s goal at 8:52 of the second sparked a rally for the visiting Pioneers, who rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat Connecticut. Minello also tied the game at 5:05 of the third, and Austin McIlmurray scored what proved to be the game-winner at 8:14 of the third. Brett Magnus made 32 saves in the win.
Rensselaer 2, at Arizona State 0
Cam Hackett made 28 saves and Jared Wilson’s third-period goal proved the game-winner as Rensselaer earned a series split with Arizona State.