Lackluster 2nd period dooms Denver against Ohio State

Photo courtesy Karl Gehring/The Denver Post

15-6. The 3rd-ranked University of Denver Pioneers were outshot 15-6 in the 2nd period against the unranked Ohio State Buckeyes in the second game of the Ice Breaker Tournament. For a team that has aspirations of returning to the Frozen Four for a second straight year, the Pioneers can’t make a habit out of getting outshot like that in any period.

As a result of the shot discrepancy, the Pioneers were outscored in the second period 2-0 and realistically, that’s what gave the Buckeyes the victory.

The poor 2nd period was a surprise, though. After giving up a goal to the Buckeyes just 29 seconds into the game on a botched line change, the Pioneers settled in and controlled the game for most of the rest of the first period. Even though they were only able to tie the game at 1 by the time the first period buzzer sounded, it felt like Denver had taken over the game, outshooting OSU 12-6, and was going to start to run away with it in the middle frame.

It didn’t take long for Ohio State to take control of play in the 2nd period. They peppered Denver goalie Tanner Jaillet with shots early and often. That strategy paid off. By the time the middle 20 minutes had ended, both John Wiitala and Matt Joyaux found the back of the net and the Pioneers found themselves down by two goals entering the regulation period.

“i thought we deferred too much,” Denver head coach Jim Montgomery said of his team’s offensive approach. “I didn’t think we had enough net-drive mentality…it’s like we wanted to be cute. A big part of our gameplan is to get pucks to the goal line and we didn’t do that tonight.”

Jarid Lukosevicius was able to add one more goal for Denver just a few minutes into the final period, but the Pios just weren’t able to push the puck past OSU goalie Christian Frey. They came close many times, they even hit a post, but the puck just didn’t find its way over the goal line. The Pioneers lost to the Buckeyes 3-2 as a result.

The bottom line is this: the Pioneers expect to compete for both an NCHC title and a national title. Denver cannot afford to take a period off like that. The NCHC is the best conference in college hockey. Ohio State scored twice in the 2nd. If DU has a period like that against North Dakota, the Fighting Hawks will score 4.

It’s early. Upsets happen early in the season. DU has started pslowly in each of Montgomery’s first three seasons. Hell, DU lost to Air Force, who beat Boston College this afternoon, last year to open the season and still made a run to the Frozen Four. One game does not a season make.

“We lost our first game of the season last year. I’m not a very good coach to get out of the gate,” Montgomery said. “[Before the season], we get four days to practice. That’s why you see a lot of upsets in the first weekends of college hockey.”

There were some concerning aspects to this game, namely the defense’s inability to deal with OSU’s stretch passes and the offense’s struggle to find the middle of the ice, but there is no reason to believe tonight’s second period is a sign of things to come for this Pioneers team…at least not yet.

6 thoughts on “Lackluster 2nd period dooms Denver against Ohio State”

  1. The Pios were outworked for about 35-40 of the 60 minutes at home tonight, and they hopefully learned an important lesson about being ready from the drop of the puck. Slow breakouts, missed chances and the Pios’ big guns shooting blanks added up to a loss to a team that DU should have beaten. DU looked tired tonight as well, which should not happen.

    DU lost its opener last year, and ended up having a great year. I expect improvement on Saturday night.

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  2. Gambrell is hurt. You can tell he was apprehensive. Plus last week I saw the Medical guy working on him on the bench. Something’s up there. After this, they will fall in the pairwise, like an orange-ish gold Aspen leaf gently floats to the frost-bit ground on a crisp Colorado morning.
    Good thing the United States Air Force Academy will be in the big game, representing CO. Consolation game for DU?? Bitter Wells Fargo Denver Cup memories ……….

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  3. Disappointing way to start the season last night. DU just wasn’t sharp, and overall didn’t play with enough jump. As Monty said, there wasn’t enough traffic at the net (if any). I thought that was one of the things the Pios did well against Mount Royal–there were guys crashing the net. OSU’s goalie had too easy of a time last night. There were way too many turnovers, a few defensive lapses, and too many opportunities to shoot the puck that were passed up. If DU can clean those things up, they’ll be fine.

    OSU looks like a solid team, but to be frank, that’s a team DU should beat every time.

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  4. Surprise. …X 2

    Surprise slow start. Full marks to Ohio State who came to the mountains and won …
    Surprise loss by # 5 Boston Collegein our “ice breaker tournament” to unranked Air Force..

    Just like last year’s slow start.

    It’s a long time till next
    April NCAA play-offs.
    Tom

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  5. Speaking of disappointing, DU game attendance was listed (tickets distributed) as only 3,954 last night. To make matters worse, there were a lot of no-shows, too. The 6,200 seat arena was perhaps half full. For a team coming off a Frozen Four appearance, that is simply terrible. Last year, DU had a crowd of 4,707 listed vs Air Force in the home opener…

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