Frustrated Pioneers can’t locate a victory
DENVER 2, NOTRE DAME 2
Nothing short of a debacle.
That’s how University of Denver hockey coach Jim Montgomery pegged the Pioneers’ four-game losing skid through December, a buzz kill that endangered their season right before the holiday break.
“I’ve never been through something like this,” Montgomery said. Itwas the first time in 15 years Denver was swept in back-to-back series.
Maybe Montgomery was being tough on himself and his No. 17-ranked Pioneers. Their four losses came against No. 2 North Dakota and No. 5 St. Cloud State.
A nearly three-week layoff gave Denver a chance to recharge. It returned for a two-game series againstNo. 16 Notre Dame. And while Denver’s winless streak carried on into the new year, the Pioneers did gain some footing.
On Saturday, after setting up a campsite in Notre Dame’s zone for the third period, Dylan Gambrell zigzagged a go-ahead goalwith four minutes remaining. But Notre Dame answered with just 30 seconds to play as the Pioneers and Fighting Irish tied 2-2 in front of 5,891 at Magness Arena.
“We know we’re on the right trajectory,” Montgomery said. “Butwe need to get some better results.”
Denver still hasn’t won a game since Nov. 21 at Wisconsin. The Pios (8-7-2) on Friday tied Notre Dame (95-5) 1-1 after two overtimes. In that game, Notre Dame goaltender Cal Petersen collected 55 saves.
On Saturday, the 6-foot-2 Petersen, a Buffalo Sabres draft pick, played big again, making 46 saves.
“That goaltenderwas just absolutely great all weekend for them. He made fantastic save after fantastic save,” Montgomery said of Petersen.
Denver needed to play nearly all of the third period in front of Petersen to finally score. Campbell streaked through the circles in front of Petersen, then laid off a pass to TrevorMoore, who gave it right back to Gambrell for a slapshot goal.
It was Gambrell’s second goal of the night. He tapped in a rebound past Petersen afterMoore’s shot less than one minute into the third period.
But Notre Dame’s Sam Herr, on a power play, poked in a rebound with 29.8 seconds left to force a tie.
Thomas DiPauli put Notre Dame ahead nearly six minutes into the game after he swooped down the right side, then drew back to his backhand to snap a shot high past DU’s Tanner Jaillet.
Denver pushed back. And Petersen stopped the threats.
Denver’s Jaillet made his own moves and looked like Nolan Arenado. On Friday, after playing a full 70 minutes, he landed on “SportsCenter” with a tracking slide across the crease for a glove save that solidified the tie.
Midway through the second period Saturday, Jaillet turned away Herr after he deked across the blue line for a late backhand. Nick Groke: firstname.lastname@example.org or @nickgroke