With their sweep against the Western Michigan Broncos, the Denver Pioneers earned their seventh-consecutive win of the season to match the longest winning-streak of the decade that occurred back in November and December of 2010. Now (19-8-5, 15-5-2-0 NCHC) the Pioneers are peaking at the right time. The team has identified their rhythm and has found what works to generate much-needed success at such a crucial point in the year according to Head Coach Jim Montgomery. Denver looks to advance from 3rd place in the NCHC rankings and ultimately, secure an ideal seed for the NCAA tournament.
Friday February 26th
The Pioneers opened the series at Lawson Arena with an electric first period. Boston Bruins Prospect Danton Heinen converted Denver’s first tally at 3:48 into the game. Heinen deflected the puck into the net from Blake Hillman’s initial shot taken from the point. At 11:06 into the opening frame, freshman forward Dylan Gambrell buried the puck on the back-door off a feed from linemate Trevor Moore. Seconds later, Jarid Lukosevicius was whistled for tripping giving WMU the extra-man advantage. Heinen fed Tariq Hammond who scored Denver’s third goal at 13:35, moments after Lukosevicius left the penalty. In the final minute of play, Nolan Zajac fed Ottawa Senators prospect Quentin Shore who found the back of the net giving Denver a 4-0 lead into the first intermission.
Halfway through the second period, the Broncos scored their lone-goal on a power play. Junior center Matt Marcinew extended Denver’s lead back to four goals late in the middle frame. Grant Arnold found Marcinew down low, who rifled his shot in the upper corner from the crease.
During the final period, neither team added to the scoreboard. The Pioneers ended the night with a 5-1 victory over Western Michigan and netminder Tanner Jaillet finished with 21 saves.
Saturday February 27th
Round two of the series hosted by the Broncos resulted in a 4-1 win for the Pioneers. Gambrell recorded three points (1G-2A) and Jaillet secured 32 saves to capture the sweep.
The Broncos entered the second game energized in comparison to their performance Friday night. Moore put Denver on the board first with his power play goal scored in the 19th minute of the opening frame. Gambrell and Colorado Avalanche prospect Will Butcher picked up the assists.
Early into the second period, junior Matt VanVoorhis drilled a one-timer to record his second-career goal from the right point. The blueliner fired shots all weekend, providing Denver with threats beyond the top-line, to earn the tally to double Denver’s lead. At 15:01 into the second period, Gambrell extended the Pios’ lead to 3-0 on a shorthanded goal. Heinen played Gambrell in the neutral zone where the freshman converted on the semi-breakaway.
The first half of the third period remained 3-0 in favor of the Pioneers until freshman winger Colin Staub buried a loose puck to extend Denver’s lead 4-0. Late in the final period, senior Nolan LaPorte put the Broncos on the board to prohibit the shutout for Jaillet.
Dylan Gambrell’s performance extended his point-streak to 11 games and leads the team in points with 39 (13G-26A), Trevor Moore leads the team in assists with 28, Danton Heinen leads the team in goals with 15, Tanner Jaillet earned his 12th win of the season on Feb. 27, defenseman Will Butcher trails Moore in assists with 21, Quentin Shore and Matt Marcinew each scored their 10th marker of the season during the WMU series, the lefty blueliner Matt VanVoorhis scored his second-career goal in the second meeting with WMU, The third line consisting of Emil Romig – Gabe Levin – Colin Staub earned both starts for the series.
Denver faces the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks next. DU swept the Mavericks earlier in the season at Omaha (Jan.8-9). UNO was swept consecutively by St. Cloud (Feb.19-20) and North Dakota (Feb.26-27) and will be looking to get a win before the end of the regular season. The teams are set to meet on Friday, March 4 at 7:36 p.m. in Magness Arena.