Photo Credit: Bradley K. Olson, USCHO.com
For the first time since the New Year, the University of Denver couldn’t get anything going in the first period. After withstanding an early barrage by the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in which DU starting goalie Tanner Jaillet gave up 2 goals, the Pioneers settled down and came back to win.
As soon as the puck dropped at 7:36 at Magness Arena, the Bulldogs had control of the game. Even though DU had the first 4 shots of the game, UMD dominated early play. At the 3:44 mark of the opening frame, Duluth tallied the first marker of the game. Karson Kuhlman found the puck on his stick after a Tony Cameranesi shot bounced off of Jaillet’s pad and tapped the puck in for the first goal of the game.
Less than three minutes later, UMD capitalized on another Jaillet rebound. After Cameranesi shot the puck at Jaillet’s chest on the rush, Austin Farley found the puck in the low slot and tapped the goal past Jaillet to double the Bulldogs’ lead.
After the 2nd goal, DU head coach Jim Montgomery made the decision to replace Jaillet with backup Evan Cowley.
“I felt we needed a change,” Montgomery said. “I thought that Tanner’s body language was a little bit negative, especially after the first goal.”
Just after Cowley entered the game, Duluth had a wide open net to shoot at, but the puck clanged off the right post and onto a DU stick. Instead of going up 3-0, Duluth’s lead stayed at 2 and kept DU within striking distance.
Still, for the next 5 minutes of play, Duluth continued to dominate the play, but at about the 14:00 mark of the period, the tide shifted and Denver took control of the game.
In the middle of the first period, “[Grant] Arnold and [Matt] VanVoorhis implored the team to get back into the game and play more physical,” Montgomery said.
After that, Montgomery put the 4th line on the ice and at the 16:01 mark of the 1st period, DU cut the deficit in half on a gritty goal low in the slot by Matt Marcinew. The entire play was set up by hard-nosed, physical play by Arnold, who picked up an assist on the goal.
Just 2:47 later, Danton Heinen picked up the puck to UMD goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo’s right, skated to the middle and backhanded the puck through the UMD goalie’s five-hole to even the game up.
The 2nd period started eerily similar to the first period. UMD dominated play and the Pioneers couldn’t get anything going in the Bulldogs’ zone. Despite the constant pressure, Cowley stood tall and turned aside every shot sent at him.
“Evan was incredible,” Montgomery said. “I give him credit. He’s had an incredible team-first attitude. He’s worked incredibly hard and he’s really battled in practice.”
At the 13:04 mark of the middle frame, Heinen again found the puck on his stick low in the slot after a Tariq Hammond shot and lifted it behind Kaskisuo top right to give DU the 3-2 lead.
Heinen, who only had 6 goals on the season coming into the weekend, had been struggling mightily all year. Coming off of a banner year in which he shredded opposing defenses on a weekly basis, Heinen just couldn’t seem to buy a goal until tonight.
“After [Heinen’s first goal], the puck was on his stick like magic,” Montgomery said. “He was a step ahead of everyone on the ice tonight. That’s the player we all expect and know. We’re seeing it everyday in practice, but the results haven’t come in the games.”
After his second goal, Heinen had a few chances to finish off the hat trick, but he just missed on a few shots. He ended the evening with 5 shots on goal and a great +2 rating.
The third period was clearly dominated by UMD. The Bulldogs outshot the Pioneers 14-7 in the final 20 minutes and Cowley had to come up with a few big saves to bail out his defense.
With about 1:47 left in the game, UMD pulled Kaskisuo for the extra skater. In DU’s last two games (Western Michigan), DU had given up a goal against the extra skater, so the Bulldogs felt they had a good chance to even the score and send the game to overtime.
Instead of folding, DU’s defense held strong and Cowley made a few very good saves to preserve the victory and put a bit of distance between DU and UMD in the NCHC standings.
Montgomery would not comment on who would be the starting goalie for Saturday’s matchup with UMD.
Trevor Moore had an assist on both of Heinen’s goals; Marcinew’s goal and Heinen’s two goals tonight put them in a tie for the leading goal-scorer on DU’s roster with 8; only 7 penalties were called tonight, 3 against UMD and 4 against DU; UMD was 0-2 on the PP while DU was 0-1; DU was outshot 46-29; Jaillet made 5 saves in the 1st period while Cowley made the other 39 in 53:47 on the ice.