Frus­trated Pi­o­neers can’t lo­cate a vic­tory


The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nick Groke

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: ngroke@den­ver­ or @nick­groke

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