Ties aren’t always like kissing your sister. The University of Denver Pioneers skated to a 1-1 tie with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Magness Arena on Friday night. Denver ended the night with 57 shots on goal, but could only muster one fluky goal in the 3rd period.
The evening began with a lot of back and forth play by both teams. After about the 7 minute mark of the first period, DU started to take control of the game. The Pioneers were sustaining their offensive pressure, forechecking very well, and just weren’t letting Notre Dame do anything at all.
Unfortunately for Denver, at the 13:07 mark of the opening frame, Connor Hurley, somehow snuck the puck past Tanner Jaillet’s left skate to give the Irish the 1-0 lead. The goal was reviewed for about 5 minutes, but the call wasn’t changed and the goal stood.
After that goal, there was no more scoring until the third period even though the Pios dominated play all over the ice. In the second period alone, DU had 23 shots on goal. But Cal Petersen, Notre Dame’s goalie, stopped every single one of them.
As the two teams entered the third period, it certainly felt like the Pios were just about to break through with a goal and tip things in their favor. Through the first 6 minutes of the regulation period, Denver sustained their great pressure from the two prior periods.
Finally, at the 6:45 mark, Trevor Moore took a shot from the left circle that bounced off of Petersen’s mask, then off of an Irish defenseman, and then into the back of the net to tie the game at 1.
After Moore’s marker, both teams generated some genuine scoring chances, but both Petersen and Jaillet were equal to the task every time.
Notre Dame’s best chance of the night came near the end of their only power play of the night in the third period. They were able to make Jaillet move his feet, but they couldn’t find the back of the net. Notre Dame controlled the play for a few minutes after their power play expired, but Denver regained the momentum and controlled play all the way until the final regulation buzzer.
As the teams entered the 5 on 5 overtime period, it again felt like DU was on the brink of ending it at any moment. Cal Petersen was there every time to foil every scoring chance the Pioneers put together.
About halfway through the first overtime period, Notre Dame was able to get a shot to trickle past Jaillet, but just as the puck was about to cross the goal line, Denver’s goalie covered it and maintained the tie.
Despite a few more high quality scoring chances for DU, the overtime came to an end without a goal from either team. Despite 50 shots on goal, the Pioneers ended up tying the Fighting Irish.
The story of the night was, without doubt, the goaltending for both teams. Jaillet ended the night with 26 saves, a few of them acrobatic, while Petersen ended with 49 saves on 50 Denver shots.
“Tanner was excellent tonight,” Coach Montgomery said. “Throughout the night and into the 3 on 3 overtime, he made several outstanding saves.”
Even though the result wasn’t optimal for the Pioneers, there were certainly a lot of positive takeaways. Coming off of a bad 4 game losing streak in which they were outscored 20-5 (at North Dakota, vs. St. Cloud), DU needed to come out on fire. They did and they sustained it for over 60 minutes.
“I loved our process.” Montgomery said. “From our energy, our execution, our emotion, and how well we played as five guys in every zone. If we play like that, we’re going to win a lot of hockey games.”
Pioneers fans can only hope this is the beginning of a trend. This was hands down the best game DU has played in a few months and, even though the result didn’t show it, this can be a major jumping off point for Denver. However, step one is game two of this series with the Irish. The Pios need a victory this weekend to continue to build on.
“Tomorrow night is a must-win game for us,” Coach Montgomery said.
If DU plays like they did on Friday night, there is no doubt that DU will put themselves in a great position to win.
After the first overtime period, the teams played a scoreless 3 on 3 overtime period followed by a sudden death shootout that was won by Notre Dame in the 2nd round; the 3 on 3 overtime and shootout do not count toward national statistics or rankings; Dylan Gambrell was credited with his 10th assist of the year on Moore’s goal; Irish defenseman Luke Ripley received a game misconduct at the 9:26 mark of the 2nd period for a high cross-check on DU’s Troy Terry; Denver only surrendered one power play on the night – a Matt Marcinew high-stick; Montgomery said that Jaillet will also start game two of the series on Saturday; The game was televised on CBSSports.
vs. Notre Dame
TV: ROOT Sports RM
Radio: 104.3 FM