Photo courtesy DU Athletics
For the 12th straight time, the #2 University of Denver Pioneers beat the Colorado College Tigers and in the process, they extended the Tenzer Streak to 16 and jumped into first place in the NCHC, one point ahead of UMD. The only thing that didn’t happen for Denver is earning the #1 ranking in the Pairwise. They remain at #2.
“I feel good about being [first] in the NCHC,” DU head coach Jim Montgomery said. “We’ve never been in this situation and with six games left, it’s us and Duluth going head-to-head here. It’s exciting because every time you have an opportunity to win a championship, it helps you for the ultimate championship at the end.”
What is the Tenzer Streak? Glad you asked. Tonight’s victory over Colorado College clinches the Pioneers their 16th straight season with 20 or more victories, the longest active streak in college hockey. The streak dates back to assistant coach David Tenzer’s first season with the Pioneers in 2001.
20 wins is seen as a key season benchmark in college hockey, so to maintain a high level of excellence over the course of 16 seasons and two separate head coaches is a testament to the DU hockey program as a whole…and Tenzer.
Tonight’s NCHC Tournament (first round) home-ice clinching win for Denver was even less exciting than game one of the weekend home-and-home series. There was no energy in the World Arena and Denver controlled most of the play again. This time, though, Denver put a 5-spot up on CC’s freshman goalie Alex Leclerc.
From the moment the puck dropped, Denver was the better team in the building, as has been the case every time DU and CC have taken the ice in the past three years. This time, instead of top-heavy scoring, the Pioneers’ incredible depth was the reason for the dominance. Denver had five different goal-scorers on the night and all four lines notched a goal.
“You get [Troy] Terry back and all of a sudden, with everyone else that gained important minutes through the Gambrell injury, through Borgström’s sickness, and Terry’s injuries, everyone’s gained a little more experience,” Montgomery said. “I think you see that now where we’re getting a guy like Finlay, he wasn’t getting minutes before the Terry injury, now he’s getting them and it’s carrying over. Our 4th line scored the biggest goal in my opinion.”
On top of the five-goal outburst, DU’s defense remained stout. It took Colorado College until the third period tonight to get 10 or more shots on goal this weekend. It seemed like every time CC was on the rush or was beginning to set up a play in the offensive zone, Denver’s defense was there to spoil any chance they had at scoring. The two goals they did score this weekend came a bit of a fluke of a rush last night and on a 2nd-period power play tonight.
“It’s been the most consistent part of our game,” Montgomery said of his defense’s effort. “Our constant thing is hey, we’re number two in the nation in team defense. We have a great goalie, we have six great defensemen, and we have forwards who are committed to playing team-first defense.”
There’s no question that Denver has the best defense in the country. While Bemidji State (who gave up 5 to Alabama-Huntsville this evening) has a better defense statistically, there is no question that Denver’s is better when taking into account strength of schedule. This is probably the best defense DU has ever had and if they can keep this up, it’s going to be a season to remember in Denver.