Pioneers’ 15-game unbeaten streak put on ice
MINNESOTA DULUTH 3, DENVER 1
When the national collegiate hockey rankings come out Monday, the University of Denver Pioneers are likely to remain No. 2 — behind top-ranked Minnesota Duluth.
UMD claimed a split of the weekend series Saturday at Magness Arena, beating DU 3-1 and retaking the National Collegiate Hockey Conference lead by a point over the Pioneers.
Wingers Kyle Osterberg and Billy Exell had the goals that staked the Bulldogs to a 2-0 lead and Joey Anderson added an empty-netter with 59.1 seconds remaining to clinch it. Meanwhile, UMD goalie Hunter Miska — a late-blooming, 21-year-old freshman who played last season with Dubuque of the United States Hockey League — was terrific, making 38 saves.
Evan Janssen had the only goal for the Pioneers, who were 0-for-4 on the power play.
“I really liked the way we played the entire weekend,” said DU coach Jim Montgomery. “This is the NCHC. You can’t afford for your power play not to be successful . ... We outshot them and puck possession-wise, we had a lot of time. But we didn’t get to dirty areas and they capitalized on their opportunities. That’s what good teams do to you.”
The loss ended the Pioneers’ unbeaten streak at 15 games, the fourth-longest in program history and the longest in 49 years.
The Pioneers again were without star freshman center Henrik Borgstrom. The Florida Panthers’ first-round draft choice this year missed his fourth consecutive game with what DU says is an unspecified illness. He is expected to play for Finland in the upcoming World Junior Championships, however, and be back with the Pioneers for the resumption of NCHC play.
“I think we win tonight if Henrik’s there,” Montgomery said. “I have to be honest. Our power play’s not going 0-for-4 with him on the ice.”
Janssen had five of the Pioneers’ 39 shots on Miska, including his goal.
“We had our opportunities,” said the senior from Green Bay, Wis. “We had times where we passed up shots to make passes and we didn’t get enough traffic in front of the net.”
DU (12-3-3) will be idle until a Dec. 30-31 nonconference series at Providence and doesn’t play an NCHC opponent again until a Jan. 13-14 series at Western Michigan.
For the second consecutive night, the Bulldogs scored first, this time when Osterberg beat DU goalie Tanner Jaillet from the right circle at 4:01 of the first. Exell scored to make it 2-0 at 10:05, after Jaillet made a pad save on Sammy Spurrell’s shot and Exell put in the rebound.
Janssen scored to get the Pioneers within 2-1 at 13:11 of the second. Logan O’Connor broke around the net, and his sweeping shot went off Miska’s pad before Janssen poked the puck in.