Pioneers and RedHawks tie again in gritty affair

Photo courtesy DU Athletics

For the second time in as many nights, the #1 University of Denver Pioneers and the Miami University RedHawks tied at Magness Arena. With a victory in the shootout, the Pioneers once again earn the extra point for the NCHC standings.

For the game, the Pioneers outshot the RedHawks 51-26 in regulation and 5-on-5 overtime, but were only able to find the back of the net twice thanks to Dylan Gambrell and Troy Terry. The lack of goals was certainly not for a lack of excellent scoring chances. Time and again DU found themselves down low in high percentage areas, but either they hit the post or MU goalie Ryan Larkin came up with an improbable, borderline impossible save.

“I give [Miami] a lot of credit,” DU head coach Jim Montgomery said after the game. “They stuck to their gameplan a lot better than we did.”

The Pios started fast in the first period after alternate captain Evan Janssen left the game with an upper body injury. On the ensuing 5-minute power play, Dylan Gambrell got the Pios on the board early with a great snipe and it seemed like DU was going to take control of the game and skate Miami out of the building.

By the end of the first period, Denver had outshot Miami 22-3, but only had one goal to show for it. The low-scoring curse showed its power in the second period as Miami tied the game early in the period. Despite Denver’s dominance, the two teams were tied in the middle frame.

“It’s happened all year,” Montgomery said. “But it happened all year last year in the first half and we went from about 1.8 goals to about 3 and a half goals in the second half.”

The Pios held a 2-1 lead deep into the third period thanks to Terry’s late second period goal, but couldn’t hold off the RedHawks as Ryan Siroky beat DU goalie Tanner Jaillet off of an unfortunate rebound.

Even though Denver went on to earn the extra point in the shootout for the second night in a row, this weekend’s results seem troubling, not just to fans who struggle with the idea that top-ranked DU couldn’t put away a lowly Miami team, but for DU head coach Jim Montgomery as well.

“The thing that concerns me about this group is that they don’t move the puck as well as last year’s group,” Montgomery explained. “Even when we weren’t scoring last year, we were sharing the puck.”

With all the shots on goal, there has to be a reason why DU couldn’t find the back of the net more often. The easy answer is that Larkin had a good weekend and was seeing the puck well. But that doesn’t address the reason why DU hasn’t scored more than 4 goals in a game this year.

The lack of finishing ability has been a theme all year and now that we’re more than halfway through the month of November and things are starting to take shape, the frustration surrounding DU’s lack of scoring is becoming obvious. Whether it’s a good goalie on the other end of the ice or DU players are unwilling to share the puck as much as Montgomery would like them to, the bottom line is, DU simply isn’t scoring enough goals right now.

“A lot of our goals are unassisted or have just one assist,” Montgomery said. “I’ve never coached a team like that. It’s frustrating for me because i didn’t play the game trying to go through the whole team. I played the game sharing it, give and go. We’re going to try to get better at that. I don’t know if you can fix that. That’s my concern.”

If there is any consolation to this weekend and the season thus far, it’s what took place last November and into December. You remember those four straight losses against North Dakota and St. Cloud State, right? It’s still early, but the alarm bells are certainly ringing in DU’s locker room. They know they really need to start scoring more goals.

Coming out of a weekend with four of the six possible points is a good thing. Don’t be mistaken. DU is still in an excellent position going forward. But coming out of a weekend against Miami without a victory is, in a word, frustrating. DU plays Air Force and Wisconsin next weekend, so after what will certainly be a hard week of practice, we’ll see if the Pios are able to make the needed adjustments and score more goals.

8 thoughts on “Pioneers and RedHawks tie again in gritty affair”

  1. The Good:

    50+ shots tonight was a season high for DU. Too bad Larkin picked this weekend to have an all-American level performance against the Pios.

    The Bad and the Ugly:

    If I were Monty, I would also be worried about about three more things:

    1) DU was so gassed in the 3 on 3 overtime that they barely could gain the Miami zone. The Redhawks got better as the game went on and DU got worse — Miami was the better conditioned team at altitude. That has to change.

    2) Against a physical team like Miami, DU got beat up pretty good. Janssen may have suffered a head injury, missed most of the game and may be out for a while. Plant and Conley both missed shifts after getting run over by Miami players. The Pios are small and need to avoid getting crushed.

    3) Tanner Jaillet is an improved goalie, but I felt two of the goals he let in this weekend were very savable and soft. If the Pios want to be a #1 team, soft goals need to be eliminated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jansenn did get a concussion.

      I fail to see how you could find fault with Jaillet giving up 3 goals on the weekend. And you seem to think he should have only given up 1? Wow. I guess his conference GAA of 1.44 isn’t good enough, either, because that is where he was for this weekend as well. You are barking up the wrong tree about this. This DU team has issues, but Jaillet is carrying them right now and is by far their most important player.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great to see a sellout of over 6,000 fans at the arena last night, and a surprising amount of students, given that they are in the middle of finals.

    Perhaps a #1 team, free tickets for students, faculty and staff, discount tickets for everyone else, and a free parking lot was enough incentive to fill the arena.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. On the one hand, taking 4 of 6 points is a good thing. On the other hand, it was hard to leave the game last night without feeling disappointed in this series. I think DU put 90+ shots on goal this weekend, did a lot of good things, but couldn’t put away a very young and what would seem to be rebuilding Miami team. After period 1 on Friday, I thought DU would run Miami right out of the building. But full credit to Miami this weekend–those guys hung around, played very hard, were definitely the more physical team, were opportunistic offensively, and their goaltender was terrific.

    Miami definitely looked like the fresher team late in the game last night. That was odd. Have to wonder if their physical play took a toll on the Pios. DU is certainly built on speed and finesse, which can work over the long haul, but the Pios need to be careful to not take the big hit. Easier said than done. That hit on Janssen was tough to watch. I do worry a bit about this team getting worn down as the season progresses.

    Romig is out for a while, and Janssen may be too. Let’s hope the injury bug doesn’t manifest itself in a big way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I said Jaillet has improved, and I’l amplify that by saying he’s improved a lot. His stats are excellent, and he’s IS a big reason that DU hasn’t lost a game in a while. That said, he’d be the first to tell you that he misplayed a couple of savable shots this weekend, especially Miami’s game-tying goal last night. That was a softie that should have not leaked in.

    Monty’s concerns about poor passing are legitimate. At the same time, Monty also changes line combinations almost shift by shift as game conditions dictate, especially injuries. That lack of chemistry between line mates might be one of the reasons the passing game has been slow to gel.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Miami’s Larkin looked shaky to me on Friday, yet we only got 1 goal past him. He was terrific Saturday night. That being said, our offense was out of kilter. So many soft shots into Larkin’s big body. Our defensemen couldn’t get enough open looks to blast away. Credit Miami to some degree. Very little screening in front of Larkin. Maybe the odd alignment of line mates made us hold on to the puck too long.
    Besides our BLT line which often isn’t on the ice together, others need to step up some scoring (missing seniors Romig and Jannsen hurts big time).
    My biggest concern: Monty not sure he can cure our unselfish play. Crazy statement. It’s his job to straighten this out. Maybe he was just speaking out of frustration. I sure hope so.
    All that being said, we are on a 10 game unbeaten streak and ranked #2 in the country. We’ve already swept WMU and BU and got a win and a tie at UND.. I think most feel we are just skating on too fine a line here with our lack of scoring. I’d feel better if Monty sounded more optimistic. Maybe his comments are just coach speak to piss off the players and get them back on their game..

    Like

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