DU si­lenced in semi­fi­nals

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Mike Cham­bers

min­neapo­lis» The triple-crown quest for the top-ranked Univer­sity of Den­ver hockey team won’t de­velop, but the Pioneers would gladly take two of three if their sea­son ends with an NCAA cham­pi­onship April 8.

In the semi­fi­nals of the Na­tional Col­le­giate Hockey Con­fer­ence play­offs Fri­day, No. 4-seeded North Dakota up­set No. 1 Den­ver 1-0 in a tight-check­ing thriller at the Tar­get Cen­ter. The Fight­ing Hawks (21-14-3) re­ceived a goal from ju­nior wing Austin Po­gan­ski early in the third pe­riod to snap Den­ver’s 13game win­ning streak and ad­vance to Satur­day’s con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game.

“Know­ing how to play against a team like that, tight check­ing, is what we’re go­ing to see in the NCAA Tour­na­ment,” said DU coach Jim Mont­gomery, whose team is guar­an­teed to get one of four No. 1 seeds for the na­tional tour­na­ment when the 16-team bracket is an­nounced Sun­day. “I’ve thought for a while here that our prac­tices haven’t been at the pace that they need to be, but we’ve been suc­cess­ful so it’s hard to re­ally get mad at your play­ers when you keep hav­ing suc­cess. This is the only ben­e­fit, the only sil­ver lin­ing out of this, is that we’re go­ing to get back to prac­tic­ing with pace and us­ing walls and hav­ing great puck sup­port.”

Den­ver, the NCHC reg­u­larsea­son cham­pion look­ing to also win the NCHC Tour­na­ment, was av­er­ag­ing 4.3 goals per game dur­ing its win­ning streak, the fourth-long­est run in pro­gram his­tory. The Pioneers (28-7-4) had pre­vi­ously been shut out only once, in a 3-0 loss (two empty-net goals) on Jan. 13 at Western Michi­gan — their op­po­nent Satur­day af­ter­noon in the NCHC third-place game.

Den­ver re­mains No. 1 in the Pair-Wise Rank­ings but could slip to No. 2 if it loses to Western Michi­gan and Min­nesota Du­luth de­feats North Dakota. The No. 1 over­all na­tional seed will likely

open against the Western Col­le­giate Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion cham­pion, Bowl­ing Green or Michi­gan Tech. The No. 2 over­all seed will prob­a­bly open against the At­lantic Hockey cham­pion, which could be dan­ger­ous Air Force.

“This will be good for us,” DU goalie Tan­ner Jail­let said of the Pioneers’ loss Fri­day. “I think we needed this, to be hon­est. We didn’t play very good at all and it’s the first time we’ve played a good team in a while. Hope­fully we can learn from this and get ready for (Satur­day).”

Po­gan­ski scored 2:30 into the third pe­riod off a big carom off the end boards. From the left point, de­fense­man Colton Pool­man put the long shot off the boards be­hind the net and Po­gan­ski drove in from the right wing and had the open net to shoot at be­cause Jail­let wasn’t ex­pect­ing the carom.

“I went for­ward with my blocker and missed,” Jail­let said of Pool­man’s shot. “Kid got a heck of a bounce; it went right on his stick. Rinks like this, bounces hap­pen. What can you do?”

Den­ver had an un­for­tu­nate stretch to end the sec­ond pe­riod. Sopho­more Dylan Gam­brell put a wrist shot off the cross­bar; and the Pioneers were as­sessed a penalty to negate a semi­break­away. Se­nior Evan Janssen took a pass on the UND blue line, but line­mate Matt Marcinew was whis­tled for trip­ping be­hind the play.

North Dakota’s Hay­den Shaw checks Den­ver’s Troy Terry while UND’s Cole Smith skates in from the left dur­ing the first pe­riod of Fri­day’s NCHC Frozen Face­off semi­fi­nal game in Min­neapo­lis. Eric Hylden, Grand Forks Her­ald

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