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The No. 1 Denver Pioneers’ recent mastery of rival Colorado College continued in the first game of their best-of-three NCHC playoff series Friday night at Magness Arena. Troy Terry had three points and Tanner Jaillet made 20 saves as Denver defeated the Tigers, 4-1, to win their 13th game in a row over CC.
“I liked the way we played,” said Denver coach Jim Montgomery. “Even in the first period, it was very discombobulated, pucks were bouncing all over the place, a lot of whistles, but I thought our effort and execution was good, and I thought the second period with less whistles we could really play at our pace and our puck possession in the second really went up.”
The first period featured mostly careful play from both teams, with neither willing to make a mistake. Alex Leclerc stood tall in the Colorado College net on a couple of strong DU chances, including one from Henrik Borgström. The Tigers thought they had taken a 1-0 lead at the midway point of the period, but a lengthy video review proved inconclusive, and the on-ice call of no-goal stood.
“With a young team sometimes that does hurt you, but you’ve been through it enough you have to learn how to play through that,” said CC coach Mike Haviland. “I thought we did a pretty good job of playing through it in the first; it was the second that was our issue, or the first 10 minutes anyway.”
“We said no matter if it’s a goal or it’s not a goal, we have to worry about our next play and our next faceoff,” said Montgomery. “That’s what we’re trying to do right now; we don’t worry about what’s happened, we worry about what’s ahead.”
Denver poured it on in the second period. The Pioneers took a lead early right after killing off a penalty when Borgström carried the puck up the left side and fired a rocket on net. Leclerc made the save, but Terry got the rebound and roofed a wrist shot top corner stick side at 1:37.
“The reason we broke it open was we have Troy Terry on our team,” said Montgomery. “I thought he was special tonight. Not only was he special with the puck, but how hard he worked to regain puck possession and defensively backchecking was incredible.”
“Obviously Terry gets the first one and it gives them some momentum,” said Haviland. “It was a rush and he gets the rebound and he picks it up and they get some momentum, and we make a major mistake on the too-many-men, and now they have momentum and they cash in on it and it’s 2-0, and you just can’t make those mistakes in the playoffs against very good hockey teams.”
Denver took a 2-0 lead on a power play when Terry made a nifty move to split the CC defense and carried it in deep, getting a shot that Leclerc stopped with his right pad, but the rebound sat there for Liam Finlay, who knocked it into the wide-open net at 6:48.
“That’s what we knew coming into the game,” said Terry. “Just the way the play, they are very hard to score on. They put a lot of guys back and they are hard to get to the net. I thought we played pretty well the first period, but our biggest focus between periods was just not to get frustrated and just keep what we were doing.”
The Pioneers made it 3-0 when Terry intercepted a CC pass in the neutral zone and carried it to the top of the slot, where he left a drop pass for Blake Hillman, who fired a snap shot five-hole at 9:11.
“The first one, I think just the way they sit back really far on the blue line I think the biggest thing is attacking them with speed,” said Terry. “That’s kind of what happened, is I attacked up the middle with speed. I kind of got a lucky bounce; it hit their skate and bounced behind them, but because I had so much speed, I was able to get behind them. I just poked it at the net and Finlay has had a nose for the net and he was there and buried that. The second one, I kind of read their defenseman was passing to the wing and I was able to step in front and I cut across and heard Hillman calling; if Blake Hillman calls for a puck, you give it to him.”
The Tigers got on the board when Ben Israel carried it deep along the left-side boards to the left faceoff dot and turned and sent a pass to Westin Michaud, who was trailing. Michaud took the puck to the top of the slot and fired a perfect snap shot top corner glove side at 10:56.
The third period got chippy near the midway point, resulting in several penalties that gave Denver two consecutive power plays. The Pioneers capitalized on the second when Jarid Lukosevicius carried the puck behind the net and came out to Leclerc’s left, then sent a pass to Matt Marcinew alone at the left post, who knocked it into the open net at 12:36.
“I don’t like some of the undisciplined stuff we did there; it’s a series and we have to come back tomorrow,” said Haviland. “I thought some of them could have gone both ways. We have to be more disciplined. Obviously, they scored two on the power play, and we got to stay five-on-five to have a chance.”
No. 2 Minnesota Duluth 5, Miami 4 (OT)
Dominic Toninato scored from the left side of the slot at 8:35 of the overtime on a rebound of Alex Iafallo’s wraparound attempt to lift the Bulldogs to a 5-4 win in overtime in the first game of a best-of-three series in Duluth. The goal came shortly after a lengthy review where it looked like Kyle Osterberg had won it for the Bulldogs, but the goal was disallowed. Duluth took the 1-0 lead at 5:21 of the first on a goal by Parker Mackay, but Miami answered just 29 seconds later on a goal by Zach LaValle, then took a 2-1 lead at 6:25 on a goal by Carson Meyer, the first of three one-goal leads Miami held, but couldn’t keep. Tied 3-3 entering the third, Miami took a 4-3 lead at 11:14 when Ryan Siroky got the puck high on the left-side boards and spun and fired a one-timer on net that deflected off a Duluth player past Hunter Miska. Duluth answered just 1:05 later when Karson Kuhlman got the puck down low and sent it to Riley Tufte, who was alone in the slot. Chase Munroe stopped Tufte’s initial shot, but Tufte batted the rebound in. Munroe had replaced Ryan Larkin, who was hurt early in the second when Jared Thomas was tripped while driving the slot and went head-first into Larkin. Larkin did not return.
Omaha 2, at No. 7 Western Michigan 1 (OT)
Evan Weninger made 27 saves and Justin Parizek scored at 4:17 of overtime to lift Omaha to a 2-1 win over Western Michigan in game one of their first-round NCHC best-of-three series in Kalamazoo, Mich. Mason Morelli won a faceoff to goalie Ben Blacker’s right and got the puck to Parizek, whose quick wrist shot from the top of the circle beat Blacker short side. Western Michigan took a 1-0 lead at 15:34 of the first when Paul Stoykewych got a rebound of a Colt Conrad shot to Weninger’s right and beat him with a shot glove side. Conrad had intercepted a clear on the right-side boards to start the play. Jake Randolph answered for Omaha at 9:38 of the second to tie it. Luke Nogard got the puck deep behind the goal line and carried it out front, sending a pass across the crease to Randolph, who shot it into the open net. Blacker made 35 saves in the loss.
No. 14 North Dakota 5, No. 20 St. Cloud State 2
Shane Gersich and Brock Boeser each had a goal and an assist, and Tucker Poolman had two assists, as North Dakota defeated St. Cloud State, 5-2, in the first game of their best-of-three series in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Rhett Gardner got the Fighting Hawks on the board at 13:39 of the first when he backhanded a shot on net from deep along the right-side boards that St. Cloud captain Jimmy Schuldt deflected in top corner glove side on Jeff Smith. Gersich made it 2-0 just 1:14 later when a failed St. Cloud clear came to him behind the St. Cloud defense and he walked in on Smith and beat him with a wrist shot low. Schuldt again pulled St. Cloud within one at 3-2 with a power-play goal at 10:48 of the third with a one-time slap shot from the right point that beat Johnson stick side, leading Johnson to throw his stick in frustration, but Austin Poganski scored at 12:18 when Gersich sent a long pass through the neutral zone that got behind a St. Cloud player trying to intercept it, allowing Poganski to walk in alone and beat Smith with a backhander as he skated across the crease.