DU PI­O­NEERS COAST

A win away from Frozen Four

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Mike Cham­bers

cincin­nati » In just its fifth year of Di­vi­sion I hockey, Penn State stands in the way of the Univer­sity of Den­ver’s quest for an eighth na­tional ti­tle.

The third-seeded Nit­tany Lions routed No. 2 Union 10-3 in Satur­day’s sec­ond Mid­west Re­gional semi­fi­nal to set the stage for Sun­day’s re­gional cham­pi­onship against the top-ranked Pi­o­neers at the U.S. Bank Arena. The win­ner ad­vances to the NCAA Frozen Four, to be held April 6-8 at Chicago’s United Cen­ter.

Penn State (25-11-2), the Big Ten Con­fer­ence Tour­na­ment cham­pion, scored the last seven goals against Union. The game was tied 3-3 mid­way through the sec­ond pe­riod be­fore the Nit­tany Lions took con­trol.

“They are a great tran­si­tion team that is in­cred­i­bly re­silient,” DU coach Jim Mont­gomery said of Penn State, which fin­ished fourth in the Big Ten reg­u­lar sea­son. “You look at what they’ve done over the last two weeks, win­ning that Big Ten cham­pi­onship with back-to-back, dou­ble-over­time games (against Min­nesota and Wis­con­sin) and then com­ing out with a dom­i­nat­ing per­for­mance against Union with the of­fen­sive flair. It shows that we’re go­ing to have to be great in our tran­si­tion to de­fense and we have to make sure we force them to play in their D-zone.”

Penn State coach Guy Gad­owsky, who played for­ward at Colorado Col­lege (198589), is close friends with DU as­sis­tant coach Tavis MacMillen, who coached un­der Gad­owsky at Alaska-Fair­banks for four sea­sons end­ing in 2002-03. When Gad­owsky left the Nanooks to be­come coach at Prince­ton in 2004, MacMillen was hired as his suc­ces­sor.

Gad­owsky was hired in 2011 to lead Penn State to Di­vi­sion I, and Mont­gomery thinks the Gad­owsky-MacMillen re­la­tion­ship could help the Pi­o­neers pre­pare.

“Tavis knows how he coaches them; he knows what he’ll be telling his play­ers,” Mont­gomery said.

Penn State en­tered Satur­day scor­ing 3.97 goals per game, rank­ing sec­ond na­tion­ally. Den­ver has the coun­try’s top-ranked de­fense, al­low­ing just 1.80 goals per game.

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