Photo courtesy DU Athletics
DENVER – Troy Terry returned, Adam Plant scored a goal barely a minute into the game, and the #2 University of Denver Pioneers won their 11th straight game against in-state “rival” Colorado College Tigers by a score of 2-1. And that’s about all there is to say about the third matchup of the season between Denver and Colorado College.
After Plant opened the scoring early in the first period, the game settled into a slow, methodical, boring pace. Denver played better hockey for most of the night as they outshot Colorado College 39-15, but they were only able to muster 2 goals on the night with the second coming from Jarid Lukosevicius during a second-period power play.
“The first 10 minutes, I thought we were very sluggish,” DU head coach Jim Montgomery said after the game. “I thought we played a really good team game, the type of game you have to play in order to have success against the way CC is playing.”
The sluggish, boring pace was a function of the fact that both teams were coming off of a bye week last weekend. To compound matters, Troy Terry hadn’t seen the ice in a game since January 13 against Western Michigan because of an upper-body injury. All of these factors played a significant part this evening.
One of the bright spots for the Pioneers this evening was their power play, which has continued to improve over the course of the second half. Denver had three separate power play chances in the second period this evening and Lukosevicius was able to bury an incredible pass from Henrik Borgström early in the first power play.
“I thought all three power plays we had in the second period were really good,” Montgomery said. “I thought we had them on their heels, I thought the second unit did a really good job. There were scrambles at the net front that we just missed putting it in the hole. If it goes 3-0 there, this game could have ended up a lot bigger.”
Denver’s offense seemed to find its rhythm two weeks ago against Omaha, scoring 10 over the course of the two-game series and carried the team to two important victories. Tonight, it was the defense’s turn to make up for the lack of offense. The defense giving up 15 shots and goalie Tanner Jaillet allowing just one goal in a game, even against an anemic offense like Colorado College’s, is an incredible defensive effort.
“Once our defensemen tightened up…I thought we really took over the game,” Montgomery said. “[CC] hangs around. That’s how they try and win. They’re hoping for a bounce at the end and they almost got one on the one point shot. It could have been 2-2. Tanner Jaillet is very impressive with how well he’s playing considering he didn’t have that much action.”
Thanks to tonight’s one-goal defensive effort, the Pioneers are now one of the two teams in the country that have given up fewer than two goals per game. The WCHA’s Bemidji State is the only team that has a better defense statistically than Denver. The Beavers have given up 1.82 goals per game while the Pios have given up 1.97 per game.
Defense wins championships, right?
DU travels to Colorado Springs tomorrow night to finish off the weekend home-and-home series and the regular season series with the Tigers. A win tomorrow night would give the Pios sole possession of first place in the NCHC. The puck drops at 6 PM tomorrow night. Note the unusual start time.