Pioneers win round one in fight with Bulldogs

The Denver Pioneers have now gone 15 games unbeaten with their 4-3 win over the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs on Friday night. Through that stretch they’ve had injuries to players such as Dylan Gambrell, Evan Janssen and Emil Romig but that never seemed to affect the Pioneers. It’s about that next man up mentality. Tonight it was Henrik Borgström who was out of the lineup with an illness, but, just like the other injuries, the Pioneers didn’t seem to be fazed tonight.

“A lot of players are gaining confidence and we’re going to continue to get better throughout the year,” head coach Jim Montgomery said after the game. “When we get Henrik back and Romig back we’re going to have four lines that can really buzz.”

Troy Terry was the man who stepped up tonight. It didn’t matter which zone the puck was in, Terry was on it tonight. He was able to utilize his incredible deking ability to get DU’s third goal of the game and also added two assists.

“[Terry] was great tonight,” Montgomery said. “If he can play better, I’m going to take it. But I’d like him to stay at that level.”

A No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup will produce a great hockey game. That’s exactly what we got when the No. 1 UMD Bulldogs took on the No. 2 Pioneers. The puck was moving back-and-forth between both sides of the ice and it definitely lived up to the billing.

UMD was coming off two-straight bye weeks so both teams got off to a slow start, sharing most of the scoring opportunities. The Bulldogs got things going first when UMD’s leading scorer Alex Iafallo scored on a breakaway with a backhand deke to beat Tanner Jaillet.

After that both teams would continue to get their scoring opportunities and the Pioneers would be able to break through in the second period. About seven minutes into the second period, Tyson McLellan stole the puck from a UMD defenseman, passed it to Colin Staub who was able to find Kevin Conley to tie the game at 1-1.

The Pioneers were able to get another goal four minutes later when Terry came down on a two-on-one, fired a wrister and Logan O’Connor was in front of the net to pick-up the garbage and make it 2-1. It took the Pios just 22 seconds to strike again off of a beautiful forehand-backhand deke by Terry that opened up the goalie’s five hole just enough for him to slide the puck in. A few minutes later, Minnesota-Duluth’s Joey Anderson would make it 3-2 with a gorgeous top shelf snipe. Those three goals happened in the span of two minutes during the second period.

It was Jarid Lukosevicius who was able to get the scoring going in the third period when Terry was able to set up Lukosevicius with a perfect cross-ice pass and Lukosevicius put it home. The rest of the third period consisted of a lot of back-and-forth play but the Bulldogs couldn’t get anything past Tanner Jaillet.

Both teams were getting their fair share of scoring opportunities but it was the Pioneers who were able to capitalize on them more often on this night. The Bulldogs threw everything they had at the Pios and were finally able to get their third goal with about three minutes left courtesy of Sammy Spurrell. Duluth had seven shots to DU’s zero in the final five minutes of the hockey game.

Jaillet was brilliant again tonight finishing with 32 saves on 35 shots while UMD’s goaltender, Hunter Miska, had a solid game himself, finishing with 27 saves on 31 shots.

Both teams will switch their focus to tomorrow night’s game back at Magness Arena. Puck drop is at 7:05pm and it should be another fantastic hockey game.

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